Resource Blog/Media/LCI Skelton Familant HERO2


Mammogram was a 'Game Changer' for Boca Breast Cancer Survivor

Baptist Health Eugene M. & Christine E. Lynn Cancer Institute

It was on a strenuous hike in the Colorado mountains in 2022 that Beth Familant, M.D., an internal medicine specialist, first thought something was wrong. An avid runner and exercise enthusiast, Dr. Familant had always been in good health. But on this particular day, as she bent to the side, she felt a hard, pea-sized lump in her right breast.


She tried to stay positive and attempted to convince herself that it was a cyst that would be gone by the time she returned home to Boca Raton from her vacation. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.



(Watch now: After finding a hard, pea-sized lump in her right breast that turned out to be breast cancer, Beth Familant, M.D., an internal medicine specialist in Boca Raton, says that early detection is a “game-changer.”


Dr. Familant, 52 at the time, was diagnosed with invasive lobular carcinoma, a cancer that begins in the milk-producing glands (or lobules) of the breast. It is the second-most common breast cancer diagnosed in women.


There is a 1 in 8 chance that a woman will develop breast cancer, with nearly 370,000 new cases expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S. this year, according to the American Cancer Society. It is the second-leading cause of cancer death in women, behind lung cancer.


 “It’s not very common for a woman with lobular cancer to actually feel a lump,” says Jane Skelton, M.D., the medical oncologist who is a member of the team that has cared for Dr. Familant at Lynn Cancer Institute at Boca Raton Regional Hospital, part of Baptist Health. “These cancers are often slow-growing and hard to see on imaging.”


Jane Skelton, M.D., a medical oncologist with Lynn Cancer Institute at Boca Raton Regional Hospital, part of Baptist Health


Dr. Familant’s previous mammograms and ultrasounds, which she underwent each year because she had dense breasts, were clear. This time, however, a mammogram and ultrasound showed areas of concern, and a biopsy the next day confirmed it was cancer. An MRI also revealed abnormalities along the entire lateral portion of the breast that were determined to be pre-cancerous.


She shared her diagnosis immediately with her husband, and then her high school-aged son and college-aged daughter. “It was summertime, so they were both at home. Even though I didn’t know much about my treatment yet, I sat them down and told them I had breast cancer. They were amazing.”


Part of what made her breast cancer journey as smooth as could be expected was the unexpected, she says. There was no need to schedule separate appointments with all of the physicians involved in her care, thanks to the Multimodality Clinic at Lynn Cancer Institute.


“Besides your decision about surgery, you have so many other things to consider,” she says. “The clinic is one-stop shopping. You are in one room and four or five doctors come in individually and spend about 30 minutes with you, discussing everything and answering questions. In one morning, I had multiple answers. It takes a team.”



The Multimodality Clinic, says Dr. Skelton, was designed for patient convenience and to avoid the potential delays that often come with trying to schedule appointments with specialists such as surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and geneticists. In addition, the team includes social workers and others. The medical team then meets the next day to review images, pathology reports and other information to determine the best course of treatment.


Although there was no history of breast cancer in her family, Dr. Familant knew that as an Ashkenazi Jewish woman, her risk for breast cancer would be significantly higher if she had mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. Genetic testing, however, did not show any known mutations.


On August 12, 2022, she underwent a double mastectomy performed by breast surgeon Joseph Colletta, M.D. Plastic and reconstructive surgeon Matthew Goodwin, M.D., later inserted implants. Dr. Familant did not require chemotherapy or radiation therapy, but she is taking tamoxifen, a form of hormone therapy, to reduce the risk of recurrence. She will take the daily pill for five years.


“Beth’s prognosis is very good. Her follow-up involves seeing me every three months at first and then every six months,” says Dr. Skelton. “But I tell every patient to come see me sooner if something happens that they question or that doesn’t make sense. They know their body best.”


Dr. Familant says she could have traveled anywhere for care, but she chose to stay local because Lynn Cancer Institute’s comprehensive program and compassionate healthcare team had everything she needed.


“I’m a little over a year and a half now being cancer-free,” she says. “It’s a feeling I can’t really explain. Our health is the most important thing we have and often we don’t realize how lucky we are.”


Dr. Familant shares her message with other women through organizations such as Sharsheret and the Florida Breast Cancer Association. She talks about her experience and the importance of breast cancer screenings.


“Even though my type of cancer doesn’t often show up on mammograms, early detection is a game-changer,” she says. “It’s important that women talk to their doctors about their risk and the type and timing of screening that is best for them.”



Baptist Health Cancer Care is here to support you through every stage of your breast health journey, beginning with getting your mammogram at any of our diagnostic imaging locations. Request a mammogram today by visiting or through the Baptist Health PineApp.

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With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

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