Taking Action Against Her Breast Cancer

10:00 PM, Feb 8, 2011   |    comments
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CHEVERLY, Md. (WUSA) -- Cheverly, Maryland, resident Helen Crosskey told 9NEWS NOW's Andrea Roane beating breast cancer isn't easy -- it takes a lot of work and a lot of positive energy.

"My story is different, because once I found out about the cancer, I went in to action," Helen said. "I don't waste time on medical issues. You get to it and take care of your body. "

She had done a self breast exam and found a lump under her arm. It went away in three days. But she had found another one in the center of her breast that didn't go away.

Her self diagnosis was confirmed; she had breast cancer. She had a lumpectomy, and the doctors wanted to do a second surgery. Before that surgery, she sought out a second opinion at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Philadelphia.

Lucky for Helen, the cancer didn't spread to other parts of her body. But her second opinion also agreed she needed a second operation to remove some lymph nodes.

RELATED STORY: Some Breast Cancer Patients Can Skip Node Surgery

Her post surgery options were radiation for 5 to 6 weeks and weeks of chemotherapy, or she could try a new procedure called Interoperative Radiation Therapy (IORT).

Dr. Pablo Lavagnini with Cancer Treatment Centers of America told us, IORT is essentially bringing the radiotherapy into the operating room and performing the radiotherapy during surgery.

Dr. Lavagnini brought IORT to Cancer Treatment Centers of America in 2009.

"Helen was a good candidate, because we found like most patients with breast cancer, the disease is localized to a section of the breast and in her case was localized to a fraction of the breast," Dr. Lavagnini said.

Partial breast irradiation is not new, but usually it happens over a 2-week period. With this mobile electron linear accelerator, patients now can receive IORT in any operating setting.

Dr. Lavagnini said, "The other advantage, you're shifting out of the way organs that don't need radiotherapy....that gives us even less side effects."

Helen's IORT treatment took less than two minutes, and she was back home within 48-hours and back to work a month later.

She told us, "I feel great. I truly feel great. I don't think anything could have been better than what I went through."

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