Even after 56-year-old Kathy Vrba received the news that a pea-sized cancerous lump was found in her left breast after her annual mammogram, she decided to take the positive advice she has offered to so many of her patrons during her 28 years as a bartender. “Once I heard the alarming news that I had breast cancer, initially I was so scared, but then instantly I thought no, I’m going to follow my own advice that I have given to so many of my customers and just stay optimistic,” said New Lenox resident Kathy Vrba.
After Kathy skipped her annual mammogram one year, her gynecologist told her during her annual exam that she really must get one. So Kathy went to the Silver Cross Center for Women’s Health for her test in the fall of 2012. When the staff called her and explained that she needed to come in for a second mammogram, Kathy was concerned. “I was so nervous when I returned for another mammogram, but the nurses and staff at the Center for Women’s Health were very supportive,” said Vrba. “They calmed me down and alleviated my fears.”
Her diagnostic visit revealed a small cancer. After much discussion with her oncologist and her husband, Vic, Kathy decided to have a lumpectomy to remove the tumor. After her surgery, her next step was to have follow-up treatment which consisted of 5 weeks of radiation and 5 years of medicine, to prevent a recurrence.
Since Kathy was a possible candidate for prone therapy, her physician suggested she go see Dr. Anne McCall at the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center at Silver Cross. Dr. McCall has experience with the state-of-the-art prone breast radiation technique that is offered on the Silver Cross Hospital campus, as well as at the University of Chicago’s Hyde Park campus.
“The minute I met Dr. McCall I knew I was in good hands,” said Vrba. “She was very friendly and so knowledgeable. She explained why the prone treatment was a good option for me and thoughtfully listened and answered all my questions.”
“Prone breast radiation treatment is a wonderful technique for the right patient,” said Anne McCall, M.D., Medical Director for Radiation Oncology for the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center at Silver Cross Hospital. “And Kathy’s clinical situation made it appropriate to treat her using the prone radiation technique.”
Dr. McCall adds, “Prone therapy is especially beneficial for women with larger breasts and a tumor on the left side that hasn’t spread to the lymph nodes. The dose of radiation is uniform with less skin reaction. There is minimal exposure to the heart and lungs. This lowers the risk of complications, such as future heart disease and lung damage.”
How Does Prone Breast Radiation Treatment Work?
Prone breast radiation therapy is a unique approach to treating breast cancer. Radiation is administered on a specially-designed table with a breast board to help the woman lie more comfortably in the prone position, on her stomach, with the breast hanging down from the body for radiation therapy.
Some patients may find lying on their stomach challenging, but not Vrba. “As a patient you really have to be motivated to lay on your stomach for treatments, but I really feel Kathy’s upbeat attitude feeds her motivation to do so,” said Dr. McCall.
Benefits to Prone Treatment
There are many benefits to receiving radiation in the prone position in addition to minimizing radiation exposure to the surrounding organs and tissues. Although the radiation dose in the prone position is the same as when the patient lies flat on her back for radiation treatment.
“By using the prone technique, the breast falls away from the chest wall making it easier for radiation therapists to target the tumor more precisely with the radiation,” said Kimberly DeNardo, Lead Radiation Therapist for the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center at Silver Cross.
“The goal with every treatment plan is to protect the healthy tissue from radiation,” DeNardo said. “As with every patient, the planning phase was so critical in creating Kathy’s personal prone treatment plan.”
During the planning phase, radiologists performed a CT scan to determine the exact positions of the cancer and of Kathy’s heart and lungs. “Then we met with the radiation oncologist, Dr. McCall, to develop the best treatment plan,” DeNardo said. “By using the most advanced TrueBeam new-generation linear accelerator system, we were able to deliver precisely targeted radiation therapy to provide the best results for Kathy.”
DeNardo brought over 14 years of experience working with cancer patients at the University of Chicago’s Hyde Park campus to her new role on the Silver Cross campus. “Our job is to make every patient’s treatment and experience easier,” said DeNardo. “Whether we hold their hand or simply listen to their concerns, we are there to offer them support. Patients shouldn’t decide that it’s easier to give up instead of fighting when they can be cured with all the advanced cancer care treatment options available, like those offered here at the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center at Silver Cross.”
Comforting Advice to Others
“I would highly recommend the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center at Silver Cross to cancer patients,” said Vrba. “The staff of doctors, nurses, radiation therapists and receptionists would always greet me with a warm welcome and say ‘Kathy’s here!’ The care was exceptional, the staff was fantastic and it was all so close to my home.”
“By coming to the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center at Silver Cross, patients have access to the same advanced technology that is offered at the University of Chicago at Hyde Park in downtown Chicago,” said Dr. McCall. “We are fortunate to have highly trained and experienced radiation therapists from the University working at Silver Cross who truly make the patients’ treatment so successful.”
About the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center at Silver Cross
The University of Chicago Medicine and Silver Cross Hospital’s $21.6 million outpatient cancer treatment center located at I-355 and Route 6 (1850 Silver Cross Blvd.) in New Lenox opened its doors on June 25, 2012. The 20,000-square-foot University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center at Silver Cross brings University of Chicago academic specialists and their advanced and investigational therapies into a community-hospital setting. The new facility provides state-of-the-art chemotherapy and radiation therapy, as well as access to hundreds of clinical trials. It also offers a brand new TrueBeam new-generation linear accelerator system, which delivers precisely targeted radiation therapy to provide the best results. In addition, other services provided at the Comprehensive Cancer Center include cancer support services, hormonal therapy, immunotherapy, infusion services, and preventative screenings. The University of Chicago maintains more active clinical trials for the treatment of cancer than any other program in Illinois. To schedule an appointment, call 1-855-UCM-1400. For more information about the new University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center at Silver Cross Hospital, visit www.ucmcancer-sch.org.
The Advisory Board recently gave Silver Cross Hospital a new van to serve as a courtesy vehicle to transport patients and their guests from the parking lots to the Hospital entrances.
For 52 years the Advisory Board has raised funds for Silver Cross Hospital by operating a resale shop called the Encore Shop. The Encore Shop is located in the Hershman Building, 1301 Copperfield Ave., Joliet—on the former Silver Cross Hospital campus. The newly expanded store is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and the first Saturday of the month from at 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. If you’re looking to donate gently used seasonal decorations, adult and children’s clothing, household items, or books the Silver Cross Hospital resale shop—the Encore Shop is now accepting donations at the new Encore Shop in Joliet or in the collection bin outside Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox. For more information, call either the Encore Shop at (815) 300-7642 or Volunteers Services at Silver Cross Hospital at (815) 300-7117.
Over the past 11 years, the Advisory Board has donated more than $936,744 to Silver Cross for the purchase of X-ray equipment for the Emergency Department, ICU beds, laptop computers for Home Health nurses, dialysis and mammography equipment, surgery carts and instruments, cardiac software, blanket warmers and a new pick-up truck used to maintain the grounds of the hospital campus. The group completed a $75,000 pledge to purchase the water feature in the Dralle Serenity Garden outside the new Silver Cross Hospital which opened Feb. 26, 2012.
Silver Cross Hospital is now performing another revolutionary procedure – oncoplastic breast surgery, which combines the latest plastic surgery techniques with breast surgical oncology. For 46 year-old Hope Barrera having oncoplastic breast surgery enabled her to have her cancerous tissue removed while conserving as much of her breast tissue as possible.
As in Barrera’s case, most women who would need to have a large lumpectomy would be left with a distorted breast. During Oncoplastic Breast Surgery, the lumpectomy defect is immediately reconstructed using the remaining natural breast tissue. The breast is sculpted to realign the nipple and areola, minimize defects, and to restore a natural look to the breast shape. The opposite breast can often be modified to create balance and symmetry.
After not having a mammogram in 5 years, Hope decided to go the Silver Cross Center for Women’s Health. Her mammogram results showed what was initially thought to be calcification spots or calcium deposits in her right breast. She then had a biopsy of the deposits. “The Center for Women’s Health staff made me feel so comfortable during my biopsy procedure,” said Romeoville resident Hope Barrera. “They held my hand to calm me down while they explained the details of the procedure.”
It was then determined that her biopsy results were positive indicating the spots were actually malignant. “When I was diagnosed with cancer, instantly I was so scared for myself and the future of my husband, Vincent and our two daughters,” said Barrera. “But through the support I received from the staff at the Center for Women’s Health and my surgeon, Dr. Patricia Clark, I was able to deal with my illness in a positive way.”
At her initial meeting with Dr. Clark, Barrera shared that she had a breast reduction 5 years prior. “As is common for many women, Hope’s breast reduction surgery left her with a lot of scar tissue and abnormal areas identified on her mammogram,” said Patricia Clark, M.D., who is a board certified general surgeon at Silver Cross Hospital. As a result of the previous surgery, scar tissue, and multiple suspicious areas discovered on her breast MRI, Hope’s case was even more complicated to correct. Oncoplastic breast surgery offered the best hope to safely excise all of the lesions without the need for mastectomy.
Careful preoperative planning included review of the previous surgical technique. Dr Clark’s training and experience with breast reduction and mastopexy techniques allowed her to predict the altered blood supply to the breast and design a surgical approach to preserve this while safely removing the lesions. With the help of MRI guided needle localization performed at Silver Cross Hospital, Dr Clark was able to remove the cancer and the remaining suspicious lesions in both breasts through Barrera’s original incisions. Adjacent breast tissue was rearranged to fill the lumpectomy defect caused by removal of the cancer and restore the natural breast shape. The innovative combination of plastic surgery and cancer surgery techniques left Hope with complete excision of her cancer, a very good cosmetic result, and no need for further surgery.
“I am so grateful to Dr. Clark for her excellent surgical skills and ability to successfully perform such a complicated surgery,” said Hope. “I highly recommend others to seek treatment with her. She was also so attentive to my family and me. I just love the way she took care of me.”
Benefits to Oncoplastic Breast Surgery
Benefits for patients who have oncoplastic breast surgery include:
- typically a single surgery,
- generally no use of drains,
- may be outpatient or require one night in the hospital,
- and recovery time is faster than with mastectomy and reconstruction.
Not all patients are suitable candidates for oncoplastic reconstruction but for many oncoplastic techniques reduce the trauma of a breast cancer diagnosis.
To encourage women to be screened for breast cancer and osteoporosis, the Silver Cross Center for Women’s Health is offering $10 off a one-hour massage or facial following a mammogram, breast ultrasound, or bone densitometry scan.
Spa services are performed by an experienced licensed massage therapist/esthetician. Regularly priced at $60, one-hour massages and facials are payable by cash or check at time of appointment. Insurance will not be billed. Spa services are only available in conjunction with a screening or diagnostic test at the Silver Cross Center for Women’s Health. To schedule an appointment, call (815) 300-7076. A physician’s order is required for all tests. Don’t have a doctor? Call 1-888-660-HEAL or visit www.IMatter.silvercross.org for a free referral.
Plus, through the Silver Cross free I Matter™ program, Silver Cross Center for Women’s Health patients receive valuable discounts from local businesses just for getting their regular health screenings. For more information or to become an I Matter member, visit www.IMatter.silvercross.org.
Massages and Mammograms, Oh My!
The Center for Women’s Health is located at I-355 and Route 6 in Pavilion B on the Silver Cross Hospital campus in New Lenox. Set in a soothing, spa-like environment, the Center was the first in the region to provide an advanced level of diagnostics coupled with specialized care for women in one convenient location.
Offering a variety of healthcare services designed around a woman’s needs and lifestyle, the Center’s crown jewel is full field digital mammography—the latest breast cancer testing available. “At the Silver Cross Center for Women’s Health, we use only digital mammography technology to provide our patients with the best service and care,” says Marci Vasiliades, Manager of the Silver Cross Center for Women’s Health. “Patients can bring their old films in and we will scan and transfer them to the digital format for easy comparison.”
Digital mammograms also simplify the procedure for women. Although compression of the breasts is still important when performing digital mammography, the compression paddles are warmer and more flexible, which ultimately provide women with a more comfortable experience. Following the screening, women can call a 24-hour mammogram hotline to obtain their test results alleviating any anxiety.
The Silver Cross Center for Women’s Health is designated as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology (ACR) and is uniquely staffed with a Certified Breast Care Nurse (CBCN™). “By having a Certified Breast Care Nurse working at the Center, we are able to offer our patients even more specialized and personalized care,” said Vasiliades. “This specialized nurse guides our patients through the next steps in their care.”
In addition to digital mammography, the innovative center offers women diagnostic breast ultrasound and breast biopsies, bone densitometry scans, and baseline heart screenings. For added convenience, the Center recently began offering spa services for patients following their testing appointment.
“At the Silver Cross Center for Women’s Health, we provide healthcare that is centered around women—their needs, concerns, and lifestyle,” says Vasiliades. “It’s a partnership that puts each woman at the center.”
The Barnes Foundation was pleased to host its fourth annual signature fundraising event, “Cocktails for a Cause,” in which event proceeds benefited cancer care at Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox. Over 250 people attended this worthwhile cause that raised $25,000 to help fund cancer services at Silver Cross Hospital on September 28 at CD & Me in Frankfort.
“The Barnes Foundation is passionate about supporting the new Comprehensive Cancer Center,” said Barnes Foundation President Amy Gollan. “This facility will be able to connect people right in our own community with cutting-edge technology and treatment that is typically only available in a big city. Having witnessed a close family member’s battle with cancer, I know how grueling and stressful traveling to receive treatments can be. This new state-of-the-art center will make cancer treatment an easier and more positive experience.”
“We are grateful for the support of the Barnes Foundation. Their generosity in creating “Cocktails for a Cause” will help us provide the best possible care to our patients battling cancer. We thank the Barnes family and all who attended this wonderful event,” said Larry Johnson, Vice President, Silver Cross Foundation.
“Cocktails for a Cause” included cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, live music, a DJ, a $1,000 raffle, and a silent auction.
Even after 36 year-old Darbie Day found a large lump in her right breast during a self exam, her initial thought was to stay positive and figure out what to do next. So after her gynecologist confirmed that a lump was present during her annual appointment, Day and her husband began their extensive search to research what institution offered the best cancer care – the result was the University of Chicago Medicine and its satellite – the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center at Silver Cross Hospital.
“Everything we researched online kept pointing my husband Elliot, a financial/insurance agent, and I back to the cancer program at the University of Chicago Medicine,” said Homewood resident Darbie Day, who is a professional makeup artist. “We were impressed that the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center was the only area program rated among the best in the nation and is the top-ranked cancer program in Illinois, according to U.S. News & World Report.”
In the fall of 2011, Day was diagnosed with Triple Positive Breast Cancer by Olwen Hahn, M.D., a medical oncologist at the University of Chicago Medicine In Hyde Park. “The biology of Darbie’s breast cancer indicates that it will respond to a targeted approach. We considered this fact in recommending her treatment plan, a combination of chemotherapy, targeted therapy against the Her2/neu receptor, and endocrine therapy. ” said Dr. Hahn.
“Dr. Hahn was wonderfully kind at explaining that these high levels of estrogen progesterone and Her2 proteins, were the things that fed the cancer,” said Day. “It was also explained to me that it could be possible that this type of cancer maybe due to the fact that I was never pregnant and I was on birth control for an extended period, but not totally proven.”
Fortunately the cancer was not in her lymph nodes. So to treat the cancer, she had what is known as Neo-adjuvent Therapy. Since the mass was so large, she first had chemotherapy treatments which reduced the large tumor to small particles. Then her next step was to undergo radiation therapy. “Ironically as I was getting ready to have my radiation treatments, I received a brochure in the mail announcing the opening of the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center at Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox. My husband and I were thrilled that I could receive care so close to my home instead of traveling all the way downtown,” said Day.
For 5 weeks, Day drove a mere 20 minutes from her home and received radiation treatments at the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center at Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox. Anne McCall, M.D., was Day’s radiation oncologist at the New Lenox campus. “When I first came to Silver Cross Hospital’s campus, I was so scared, but when Dr. McCall entered the room and gave me a big hug, I knew everything would be OK from then on and it was,” said Day. “All the staff of nurses, radiation therapists and receptionists were so personable and excited to see me. They treated me like a person – asked about my weekend – and not just focused on my cancer.”
“Darbie is a wonderful example of how an upbeat attitude can positively influence treatment and recovery,” said Anne McCall, M.D., Medical Director for Radiation Oncology for the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center at Silver Cross Hospital. “By using the most advanced TruBeam new-generation linear accelerator system, we were able to deliver precisely targeted radiation therapy to provide the best results for Darbie.”
Reassuring Advice to Others
“I would highly recommend other cancer patients to seek treatment at both the University of Chicago and the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center at Silver Cross Hospital,” said Day. “The care was exceptional and the staff were awesome!” said Day.
“My advice to other patients is to remain positive and don’t dwell on the ‘what ifs’. I always tried to make myself feel good whether I put makeup on or wore a sassy hat, the little things, as well as a great husband really helped me stay upbeat,” said Day. “Be sure to live in the moment and do exactly what your physicians tell you to do. And rely on the loving support from your family and friends and most of all your faith to guide you through.”