Ruskin resident Patti Greene (left) and BayCare Medical Group’s Dr. Robert Gabordi.

“COVID may have saved my life.” In the middle of the pandemic, that was the unexpected consequence for 61-year-old Patti Greene of Ruskin, the owner of a busy hair salon.

On March 27, Greene discovered a lump on her right breast during a self-examination. Her salon was closed because of the pandemic.

If the salon was open and busy with customers, she admits she may have procrastinated in doing something about the lump.

With the unexpected free time, and on the urging of friends, she acted and had the lump examined and eventually removed at St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital in Tampa by Dr. Robert Gabordi, a BayCare Medical Group breast oncology surgeon and medical director of the breast program at St. Joseph’s Hospital’s Cancer Institute. St. Joseph’s is designated as a Breast Center of Excellence by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers.

On May 14, Dr. Gabordi performed a successful lumpectomy which removed the cancerous lump and preserved her breast.

“I have to be careful about saying it,” Greene said. “But COVID may have saved my life.”

“I think it is a fair thing to say,” Dr. Gabordi said. “It (COVID) allowed Patti the time to take care of herself.”

Dr. Gabordi said it was important that Greene acted when discovering the lump through self-examination. The cancer could have easily spread.

Greene had imaging procedures and consultations with Dr. Gabordi at St. Joseph’s Hospital-South in Riverview. Her pre-surgery testing, procedures and outpatient lumpectomy were done at St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital in Tampa.

Greene admitted she was originally reluctant and scared about going into health care facilities during the pandemic.

“I was a little thrown off,” she said. “All this was happening to me and it was during COVID. I did not want to get COVID. I thought, how am going to do this during COVID?”

But with each visit into a BayCare facility, Greene said she became more reassured. BayCare is doing screenings of anyone entering hospitals, doing enhanced cleaning and disinfecting and using extensive personal protection equipment to protect team members and patients.

Dr. Gabordi said the prognosis for Greene is good. She does not need chemotherapy, but she will need radiation therapy.

“I felt I received the best care here,” Greene said. “Everyone shows so much compassion, kindness and understanding. It was a very comforting experience. I’m a survivor.”

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