Barb Avoided Extensive Gynecologic Surgery Due to Non-invasive CyberKnife Technology
Barb’s Story: Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Vagina & Cervix
“I had a hysterectomy 15 years ago so when I started bleeding I didn’t know what to think. Maybe I was overworked or hurt myself lifting something. I wasn’t tired or had any other problems. Because the bleeding was off-and-on I thought it’d go away on its own.”
After a year of that, 55-year old Barbara from Freeport, Grand Bahamas decided to get a pap smear. Like many women she mistakenly thought they weren’t necessary after a hysterectomy.
During the exam, a lump was discovered at the top of her vagina. A biopsy revealed Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Vagina and Cervix which had spread to her lymph nodes. It’s the most common type of vaginal cancer.
“They called me and said you must begin treatment immediately, recommending surgery to remove the vaginal tumor, chemotherapy and external beam radiation therapy.”
“I’m the kind of person who laughs things off. I was not scared, but felt like the doctors were trying to rush me. I wanted a second opinion and got several in the Bahamas but all recommended the same thing.”
“Surgery to remove the tumor would’ve been extensive leaving me with two bags. One for pee, one for poo and that was unacceptable to me. I was praying for a different option when my boss told me about CyberKnife, which meant I might be able to avoid surgery. It sounded good so right away I went on line to CyberKnife Miami’s website, read all about how the CyberKnife works, read the patient success stories and instinctively knew this was what I wanted to do so we called the center and started the process.”
“The staff is just wonderful. I felt taken care of. I don’t have insurance and I’m a housekeeper, I don’t have thousands of dollars to pay for everything, but they helped me, including with a finance plan and my boss said she’d help pay too, so off we went to Miami.”
After examining Barbara, Board Certified Radiation Oncologist and CyberKnife Miami’s Medical Director, Dr. Mark Pomper said he indeed could treat the tumor non-invasively with CyberKnife Radiation Therapy and she would not need surgery. However, chemotherapy and external beam radiation therapy would be required to kill other cancer cells in her body.
“Dr. Pomper said it would be the easiest thing for me with no down time.”
Using image-guidance and computer-controlled robotics, the CyberKnife delivers the most precise and high dose radiation possible to the tumor from hundreds of different angles gradually shrinking the tumor.
Dr. Pomper says, “Cervical Cancer is very responsive to CyberKnife Radiation Therapy because it delivers a very high dose of focused radiation to the tumor, yet sparing the healthy surrounding tissue. You can get good control of the disease with a combination of CyberKnife and chemotherapy. If you need surgery later on, it doesn’t have to be so extensive. Barbara did have some disease outside the uterus and that’s where chemo and regular radiation was used to eliminate it.”
Barbara had 5 CyberKnife Therapy Sessions, 5 doses of Chemotherapy and 25 External Beam Radiation Treatments.
“I’m finished with all that now. The chemo made me weak and I lost a lot of weight. The CyberKnife treatment was cool. It was like you were just getting a scan. You lie there, and the machine does its thing and you don’t feel a thing. I had a little fatigue afterwards, but it went away after resting and the next day I felt good and ready to go.”
“The biggest surprise is how simple it was. I didn’t have to take off my clothes. I just laid down and could take a nap. It was really nice and totally different then what I expected.”
“The staff at CyberKnife Miami is so welcoming. They make you feel relaxed, not scared. You don’t feel like you are having a medical treatment. I actually enjoyed being there.”
“Today I’m feeling great. Life is back to normal.”
Dr. Pomper says, “Barb had a great response to treatment. Her prognosis is excellent.”
He adds, “The most important thing is to explore all your options when it comes to cancer treatment. Often people start with surgeons, and surgeons see things from their perspective and don’t often see how effective other treatments can be. Always get an opinion from a radiation oncologist before doing surgery. You never know what other options you might have, either eliminating or minimizing surgery.”
Barb says, “I believe our doctors in the Bahamas are overworked and overwhelmed they don’t have the time to sit and talk to me like they did at CyberKnife Miami. When I met with Dr. Pomper and his staff they explained everything to me. They went all out to make me feel good and that everything would be okay. I knew they would do the best for me.”
“My doctors are very pleased with my progress. The tumor is shrinking. I have no more bleeding or fatigue. I’m back to taking long walks on the beach, working, and training for a race. I’d like to win that race in my age bracket.”
“To anyone facing what I did, don’t panic. Take the time to research your options. Don’t rush into surgery without looking for non-invasive treatments. Talk to people. That’s how we heard about CyberKnife Miami, not through my doctors in the Bahamas. It was from my boss who heard about it from someone else, who had been treated and recommended CyberKnife Miami. I tell everyone I can about CyberKnife Miami. I want people to know sometimes there are options other than surgery.”
Talk to our cancer experts at the CyberKnife Center of Miami to see if you’re a candidate for this non-invasive treatment 305-279-2900 and go to our website now www.cyberknifemiami.com