Since being diagnosed with breast cancer 16 years ago, Laurie has endured a mastectomy, brain surgery, spine surgery, chemotherapy, standard radiation treatment and finally, CyberKnife Radiation Therapy.
All of this occurred because her breast cancer metastasized to several parts of her body, over and over again.
“I believe with all my heart that CyberKnife saved my life because tumors can be treated repeatedly if they come back so basically they’re managing my cancer like a chronic disease. If another tumor pops up they can treat it with CyberKnife and chances are good that it will go away.”
When Laurie was treated for breast cancer with a mastectomy and chemotherapy in 1994, she thought her cancer was gone and that she had nothing to worry about. That’s why when she suddenly started having severe headaches in 2008; she didn’t think much of it. “I’m a nurse and I know people get headaches for many reasons. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s anything serious.”
Several months later, Laurie bent over and got very dizzy. “It felt like something was shaking in the back of my head so I went to my doctor and he immediately sent me for a CAT Scan.” Test results showed Laurie had a brain tumor which had metastasized from the breast cancer.
“Breast cancer runs in my family that’s why I try to be diligent and get mammograms every year, but I unfortunately missed one year and the next year they found the tumor. I was shocked, yet I shouldn’t have been considering my family history. If I hadn’t missed my yearly mammogram perhaps the cancer might have been caught earlier and wouldn’t have spread to my brain.”
Fortunately, the brain tumor was surgically removed and treated with standard radiation; however her neurosurgeon later on felt Laurie needed additional treatments so he also recommended CyberKnife Radiosurgery Therapy.
Laurie was sent to Dr. Fahed Fayad, a radiation oncologist who specializes in CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery at the CyberKnife Center of Miami.
Dr. Fayad says, “Since Laurie previously had conventional radiation treatments to her whole brain, she wasn’t eligible to have any more conventional radiation treatments because it can be toxic to healthy brain tissue. However, with CyberKnife Radiosurgery the beam is so precise, it delivers radiation directly into the tumor site and spares the surrounding tissue, enabling it to be safely used following conventional radiation with few side effects, if any. Also, if a tumor returns, we can retreat it again with Cyberknife.”
The CyberKnife is the gold standard in stereotactic radiosurgery for treating tumors almost anywhere in the body.
Several months after her brain tumor was treated, more tumors showed up in her spine, liver and lymph-nodes. Each time tumors returned, Dr. Fayad used the CyberKnife to treat them. He says, “When tumors return, patients often think it’s the end, but we can continue to treat those new tumors with CyberKnife in conjunction with systemic therapies like chemotherapy.”
Dr Fayad says, “The most impressive result in Laurie’s case is that she had multiple sequential CyberKnife treatments to different areas in the brain, liver, lymph-nodes and spine for over four years and her cancer went into complete remission without any systemic therapy for more than two years.”
Laurie is living proof that with CyberKnife therapy, cancer can be managed like a chronic disease.
Dr. Fayad says, “The major difference between CyberKnife and conventional radiation is that often we can ablate tumors with CyberKnife over and over again if they metastasize and appear in new areas while maintaining excellent quality of life for these patients.”
Laurie says, “I promote CyberKnife where ever I go. I tell every doctor about it and every person I know or meet. CyberKnife seems to have cured the tumors in my brain, liver and spine. I have been cancer free for over 2 years now without chemo or any other treatments.”