Cynthia Lampkin

Surviving a Journey Through Fire
Cynthia Lampkin and her doctor

She’d heard it called the “red devil” treatment, and Cynthia Lampkin of Brunswick, Ga., can attest to the fact that she felt like she was on fire. “My scalp and hair follicles felt like they were burning,” Lampkin recalls. “I had ulcers on my tongue. My fingertips and toes were tingling, and all my nails went black.” It was March 2013, and Lampkin, then 69 years old, was a month into her very aggressive chemotherapy treatments at the Southeast Georgia Health System Cancer Care Center on the Brunswick Campus, after being diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in December 2012. Triple negative breast cancer lacks the typical hormonal drivers of breast cancer and is therefore more aggressive and difficult to treat, as well as more likely to reoccur.
Having had a history of cysts over the previous 20 years, Lampkin was performing a breast self-exam while taking a shower when she felt a lump on her left side. In retrospect, Lampkin says, “I was in denial for a bit. I didn’t go to the doctor right away because I was going to Miami to visit my dad. I decided if the bump was still there when I got back, I would deal with it then.”
It was. Lampkin scheduled an appointment with her primary care provider who indicated it indeed felt like a cyst. She was referred to Stephen Kitchen, M.D., a board-certified general surgeon with Coastal Surgeons who also thought it was likely a cyst, but the drained fluid presented a tinge of discoloration so was sent for testing.
Four days before Christmas, Lampkin received a call to return for her results. “I was in a state of disbelief at first,” Lampkin says. “Given my history of cysts, breast cancer is something I am vigilant about. But Dr. Kitchen made me feel comfortable that everything was going to be okay.”

Lampkin decided to undergo a lumpectomy and was referred to Antonio Moran Jr., M.D., FACP, a board-certified oncologist with Southeast Georgia Physician Associates-Hematology & Oncology, a strategic affiliate of the Health System. “I felt confident with Dr. Moran from the beginning because Dr. Kitchen told me he would refer his own mom or wife to him,” says Lampkin. “Dr. Moran was very warm and pleasant. He took very good care of me, laid out a plan and told me what to expect. Although he explained my option of going elsewhere, he assured me I could get the same treatment here. I never thought of going anywhere else . . . this is home. Why drive an hour or two when I have what I need right here in Brunswick?”
Lampkin’s treatment was extensive and aggressive with two different chemotherapy regimens — the first round consisted of four treatments, one every 21 days, then round two was once a week for 12 weeks. This was followed by 33 days of radiation.
She began her journey “through the fire” at the end of February and finished in the fall of 2013. It was brutal, but she didn’t back down. Lampkin says, “My life was taken away. Three days after my first treatment, I couldn’t stand or lift my arms. In addition to my other symptoms, I developed a steady cough and a low grade fever. It was not an easy thing to get through.”
Her family was her rock and supportive throughout the journey. “My husband Bill and three children — all of who live out-of-state and took turns being here— went with me to all my appointments. I have four sisters and two aunts who also took turns coming with me. I was never alone. And everyone at the Cancer Care Center was so wonderful. They got us anything we wanted and catered to my needs and those of my support system.”
Lampkin also appreciated the kind expertise of everyone on her cancer care team. “I tell everybody the team I had was the best.” In addition to Dr. Kitchen and Dr. Moran, Kenyon M. Meadows, M.D., board-certified radiation oncologist with Southeast Georgia Physician Associates-Radiation Oncology, another strategic affiliate of the Health System, was a key provider in Cynthia’s treatment plan. “Dr. Meadows is the nicest, kindest man. He made me feel comfortable and let me know he was here to take care of me. I was always treated as a person, an individual, not just a patient or a number.”
Sharing one final memory, Lampkin chuckles, “Dr. Moran referred to my oldest daughter Cheryl, as ‘legal pad’ because she always brought one with her, asking questions and taking copious notes. But, my daughter said if she ever needed it, she would pay for Dr. Moran to come to Maryland to take care of her.”
Today Lampkin has her life back and likes to spend time outdoors, fostering her love of plants through gardening. She also enjoys visits with her grandchildren and is looking forward to Christmas, which also happens to be her wedding anniversary-- Lampkin and her husband, Bill, will celebrate 56 years of marriage this year.