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A Journey to Recovery

  • Author: Betty Boretti
  • Date Submitted: Mar 19, 2024
  • Category: Cancer Care

A Journey to Recovery

Betty Boretti bravely faces the battle of her life.

Following a routine mammogram in November 2022, Betty Boretti was called back for a biopsy, which is routine when the results of a mammogram suggest there might be abnormal or cancerous tissue. During a biopsy, the doctor removes small pieces of breast tissue from the suspicious area so they can be analyzed in the lab to see if they contain cancer cells. Just after Christmas 2022, Betty received the call — the analysis showed it was definitely cancerous. On top of that, there were some lumps under her arm as well because the cancer had started to migrate, technically referred to as stage two breast cancer. For Betty, the diagnosis came out of the blue and left her shocked. “It was very scary,” she remembers. “I kept asking myself why it happened to me.” But soon after the initial disbelief, and with the support of her husband James, they changed their focus. “We took a deep breath, acknowledged the information we received, and just started going forward to do what we needed to do to fight it,” she says.

When James Boretti moved to Visalia 20 years ago after marrying Betty, he didn’t know much about Kaweah Health, but he has seen it grow in size over the years, along with its reputation. After weighing their options for treating Betty, they decided to stay in Visalia. “We chose to go to Dr. Havard at the Sequoia Regional Cancer Center because of the experience, knowledge, compassion, and skills that he, the nursing, and medical staff all have,” he says. Sequoia Regional Cancer Center in Visalia is one of California’s most advanced cancer treatment facilities. The center offers patients a multidisciplinary approach to cancer care through the combined efforts of surgeons, radiologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, and other caregivers.

Betty’s treatment date was set to begin February 1, 2023. Doctors inserted a small chemotherapy port through one of her veins, which would deliver the medicine directly into her veins. When Betty was coming out of surgery, however, the staff was not able to wake her up, and they soon noticed complications. Betty was immediately transferred to Kaweah Health, where she underwent emergency open-heart surgery to save her life.

Within only three hours, Betty had gone from a chemotherapy appointment to life-saving open heart surgery. “I am so thankful I was in a place where I could receive such responsive attention and care,” says Betty. “The skill level of the staff, both the medical and nursing staff, was incredible. I just feel fortunate.” She remained at Kaweah Health Medical Center for six days, three of which were in the intensive care unit, before moving into another area before prior to discharge.

Five weeks later, Betty started her chemotherapy while coordinating visits from home health, who was helping her get back into walking and preparing her for the chemotherapy she was starting. The first phase of chemo went well, but the second phase was very difficult. “Betty fought really hard, and I’m very proud of her,” says James. “From the beginning, the doctor told us it’s going to be a journey — not an easy one — but a journey we can make.” One year later, there are not many signs left from her journey other than a scar from the open-heart surgery. Betty has recovered very well and is back to her normal life from before.

Betty’s journey was an emotional one, and while she was recovering from the open-heart surgery and preparing for chemotherapy, she felt incredibly grateful for the doctors and nurses who had cared for her during and after her heart surgery. As a token of her gratitude, she decided to do a pay-it-forward fundraiser benefiting Kaweah Health. “There are a lot of technological advances, a lot of advances in the medicine Kaweah Health Medical Center provides, and I want to support that,” says Betty. “We know this is a way to help other people who end up in situations like my wife did.” The funding will go towards state-of-the-art cardiac surgical lights and monitors.

Learn more about Betty and James’ fundraiser at