How the Q Exam Saved My Life: Teresa Altvater’s story

Teresa getting MRI ready for the next member in our Redwood City Q Center

My name is Teresa Altvater and I have been an MRI Technologist for 17 years, the last 2 working at Q Bio. I am also a breast cancer survivor. My diagnosis was in October of 2012 and was quite a shock to the system. I had dealt with many patients and friends going through some form of cancer, but you never think it’s going to happen to you. After surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments, I received a clean bill of health in June of 2013 and slowly, my life went back to normal. 

Over the next 8 years, I was diligent about my follow up appointments which consisted of regular doctor’s visits, and yearly breast MRIs, mammograms and ultrasounds. There were a few scares along the way, but never any new cancer findings.

In September of 2020, now known as one of the most challenging years in recent history, I started having some foot numbness. None of my doctors could figure out what it was and after much pressing, I was able to get an MRI of my lower back.  The MRI did not show anything that would cause the numbness, so the mystery continued. Dealing with my neurologists during the pandemic was difficult. I would see one via video and then another in the office. Between appointments, my symptoms got worse, but the doctors would not take the next step, which was a brain MRI. 

By December, having completely given up on my neurologists, it was time for my annual Q Exam. Lo and behold, there were several suspicious findings, including abnormal looking ovaries and lesions around my eyes. After sharing this information with my neurologists, they finally agreed, though reluctantly, to order a dedicated brain MRI. In the meantime, my primary care doctor, who was amazing through all of this, ordered an ultrasound of my abdomen and pelvis to follow-up from my Q Exam. The two different follow-up exams confirmed that there was something serious going on.

To make a long story less long, I had surgery in January to remove one of the masses found on my ovaries and received the news that my cancer was back and had metastasized. If it were not for my Q Exam, I feel like many more months would have passed before my symptoms were taken seriously and I was finally given the imaging necessary to receive my diagnosis. When cancer has spread, time is of the essence, especially when it’s close to your brain. Waiting that long could have been fatal. Getting my Q Exam and the comprehensive data allowed me to better advocate for myself and empowered my doctor to also make the right decisions for follow-up diagnosis. 

I am happy to say my current prognosis is very good and I am now receiving treatment to make sure that the cancer is not allowed to spread any further. I can’t tell you how privileged I feel to have had the Q Exam available to me. The company’s vision of a world when proactive and preventive health is available to everyone and that treatable diseases will no longer take lives has just been made real in my own life. I hope my story is only one of many stories we can tell here at Q Bio over time.