Connie’s Story: Surgery To End Of Treatment – In 12 Days

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Connie Nisonger didn’t think anything was wrong when she received a call from diagnostic radiologist Bruce Gearhart, MD, of Radiology Physicians, Inc., about her annual mammogram results because she’d had a false alarm before.

“I wasn’t really concerned because about four or five years ago, I had something show up on a mammogram. They called me back for a second mammogram and an ultrasound and it was fine. Nothing showed up on the second one,” she says.

This time, however, Connie was diagnosed with breast cancer, which was successfully treated at Miami Valley Hospital. Initially, Dr. Gearhart found a small abnormality on one of Connie’s mammogram images. He felt strongly that she should come back for additional testing.

“As usual,” Dr. Gearhart says, “we compared it with multiple previous studies. It looked like it was new or needed to be evaluated further, so I flagged it for additional evaluation.”  

Connie’s mammogram was then read by diagnostic radiologist Naomi Kane, MD, of Radiology Physicians, Inc., who met with Connie to talk to her about what should happen next. Dr. Kane says, “I told her I was quite concerned about the lesion and that there was only one way to tell what was causing it, which was to have a biopsy.”

The idea of a biopsy was unsettling for Connie and her husband, Gene, who was with her every step of her care. The compassion demonstrated by the physicians, nurses, and staff made them feel more at ease.

“Now, whether or not this is something they learn in their training or this is something that Premier Health promotes, I don’t know. But I do know how important it is to the patient,” Connie says.  

Finding the Best Treatment Path

Once her cancer was diagnosed, Connie and Gene had to decide on the best treatment path for her. “It was difficult because it felt like we’d been punched in the face,” Gene remembers. Working closely with her physicians, Connie decided to have a lumpectomy followed by radiation therapy.  

Since her cancer was detected at an early stage (it was only 4.5 millimeters), Connie had a number of radiation options, which were explained to her by her radiation oncologist.

After the lumpectomy, Connie opted for brachytherapy, a radiation therapy in which a small balloon catheter is placed in the cavity where the tumor was removed. The treatment lasts only five days.

“The beauty of the brachytherapy is not only is it over with quickly, but as you receive these radiation treatments they don’t hit your skin, bones, or organs,” Connie explains. “It is just a direct path to where the cancer cells were.”

Her journey, from surgery to completed radiation, took only 12 days.   

Follow Your Doctors’ Advice

Connie credits her positive outcome to her commitment to annual mammograms and the compassionate, quality medical care she received.  “Only 12 days because of early detection and not skipping that mammogram, not delaying it, and having a very qualified and professional doctor at Miami Valley Hospital read those mammograms,” she says.  

Husband Gene is grateful, too, because his wife is well and still sitting by his side. When he talks about her journey, he tears up. “She’s the love of my life,” he says.

He advises others who face a cancer diagnosis: “Don’t skip things that your doctors tell you to do. Have your mammograms, make sure you have your check-ups, and stay on top of things. If you don’t, it can sneak up on you. We were lucky. And tell them you love them every day.”

 

Bruce Gearhart, MD

Bruce Gearhart, MD

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Naomi Kane, MD

Naomi Kane, MD

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