Didn’t Miss a Beat
Physicians: Benjamin Gielda, MD; Dennis Rasbach, MD
For Stevensville resident, Judi Greene, her 75th birthday is one she won’t ever forget. During her yearly mammogram, which she had religiously on her birthday each year, her radiologist suggested they perform a biopsy on a small spot detected in her left breast.
“It never dawned on me that it might be cancer – it didn’t run in my family and all my mammograms came back clear in the past,” said Judi.
However, a few days later Judi learned the six millimeter spot was in fact Stage I breast cancer. Although the news came as a shock, she didn’t worry for long after meeting oncology nurse navigator, Shelley Wilkinson, RN, CBCN, at the Marie Yeager Cancer Center.
“The most important thing was having people around who understand what you’re going through and can explain what your options are,” said Judi. “Shelley really put me at ease and answered all my questions – it didn’t seem like I had anything to worry about.”
In the coming days Judi met with radiation oncologist, Benjamin Gielda, MD, who shared that she was a candidate for intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) – a new treatment for breast cancer that delivers radiation at the time of surgery, following tumor removal.
“Dr. Gielda explained my options to me and told me I could receive three weeks of radiation after surgery or have a single dose during surgery with IORT – it seemed like an ideal situation,” said Judi. “I did some research on my own and IORT just seemed so practical and efficient.”
A few weeks later general surgeon, Dennis Rasbach, MD, performed lumpectomy surgery to remove the cancerous cells in Judi’s breast. While still in the operating room, Dr. Gielda delivered a dose of radiation directly to the tumor bed. Judi said she expected to be in pain after the procedure and was shocked at how little discomfort she felt.
“If it’s possible for cancer to be a positive experience, this was it,” she said. “I just keep saying I am one of the luckiest people – everything went so smoothly.”
Throughout the entire process Judi also had the support of her two daughters. One of whom lived in Chicago and, prior to the procedure, advised her mom to look into receiving care in a bigger city.
“I told her I felt really comfortable with my care team at the cancer center and I wanted to stay local,” said Judi. “After the surgery her mind was definitely changed and she told me she didn’t think I could have gotten better care anywhere else.”
Since the procedure Judi said her life hasn’t missed a beat. She continues to spend time with her daughters and enjoys walking their dogs near Lake Michigan.
“My biggest piece of advice for all women is to get a mammogram every year,” said Judi. “They’ve come so far with technology and the fact that they could discover and successfully treat a spot as small as mine is just amazing.”