“I knew something was wrong because my body was different, especially my bowel system. For a long time, I didn’t do anything about it because it was almost an embarrassment.” This is an all too familiar statement because it is hard to believe that it can happen to us. Colorectal cancer can happen to anyone and it did to 41-year-old Yvette Brown.
After a year of silent suffering, she told her husband of her symptoms, and he encouraged her to see a physician.
Two days after her colonoscopy, performed by Holy Cross Medical Group gastroenterologist Patrick Amar, MD, Yvette was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. “Everything happened quickly…a whirlwind of physicians, nurses and staff members in a well-choreographed dance, all working to ensure a safe and positive outcome for me. I cannot say enough about the kindness and warmth that Dr. Amar showed me. His entire office staff is like family to me. I worked extra hard at getting better just knowing they were all rooting for me. Sherry [Saunders, Dr. Amar’s Office Manager] is my champion…She went to mass each morning and said a prayer for me. I am deeply touched that another human being, who didn’t know me until the day she had to schedule a series of appointments for me, could exhibit such compassion towards me.”
Sherry helped coordinate Yvette’s care with the Michael and Dianne Bienes Comprehensive Cancer Center team of physicians: Manjesh Lingamurthy, MD, Hematologist/Oncologist; Irina Grosman, MD, Radiation Oncologist; Abhijit Basu, MD, Colorectal Surgeon; and Moises Lichtinger, MD, Gynecologist Oncologist.
Due to her young age and how aggressive the tumor was, Yvette’s physicians agreed on a careful but aggressive treatment plan: chemotherapy (24/7 through a port in her chest), radiation therapy (five days a week) for six weeks and surgery to remove the tumor. Her final surgery was performed six months after her diagnosis. The journey was rough, but Yvette found motivation from her two children, “both of whom I felt were not yet ready to live in this world without me.”
Through the support of her family, the physicians, nurses, and other healthcare staff at Holy Cross, Yvette has maintained a clean bill of health since her final surgery.
“I feel compelled to commend Holy Cross Hospital and the Holy Cross Medical Group for the pleasant spaces and nice ambiance. When a person is sick and has to undergo treatment, it helps to be in a nice environment with a warm and friendly staff. Every room I entered at the hospital was furnished with a cross. This helped tremendously. I only had to think of the great sacrifice that Jesus made for us and how, therefore, could I be discouraged?”
Yvette offers advice to colorectal cancer patients, “Take heart and be strong. Have faith that God will get you through this. Practice positive thinking; don’t waste energy feeling sorry for yourself. Have regular conversations with God. He won’t let you down.”
On behalf of Maureen Mann, Executive Director of the Bienes Cancer Center at Holy Cross Hospital, and the American Cancer Society – thank you to everyone who enrolled in the CPS-3 study, promoted the study and/or recruited someone for enrollment.
Holy Cross Hospital’s official goal was 192; and we surpassed it with 196 enrollees!
If applicable, please remember:
1. To complete your paper or online survey within the next week if you have not yet done so.
2. To complete and submit the white postcard at the appropriate time in the future (applicable females only).
3. You and yours can still participate. The national goal is 300,000 enrolleees. For more locations and enrollment dates in South Florida and nationwide, visit:
The vast majority of women who undergo a screening mammogram have a normal study and return in six to 12 months for follow-up. Only two percent are usually referred for a biopsy. Prior to the early 1990s, all biopsies were performed in surgery, removing that part of the breast that contained the abnormality. Surgery could lead to a diminished breast size and scarring, with the scarring sometimes simulating signs of a malignancy, making it more difficult to interpret future mammograms.
Over the past twenty years, this has changed, and only a small number of women have surgical biopsies. Stereotactic biopsies (using mammographic guidance), ultrasound-guided biopsies, and MRI-guided biopsies (collectively called image-guided biopsies) have replaced the surgical biopsy. They have proven to be as accurate, less disfiguring and less costly. These procedures are all performed at the Dorothy Mangurian Comprehensive Women’s Center at Holy Cross HealthPlex and at Holy Cross Hospital. All of these procedures are accredited by the American College of Radiology (ACR), and very few centers have achieved this accreditation. The ACR rigorously evaluates the equipment, technical personnel and physicians before granting accreditation. The ACR recommends that the biopsies be done at accredited centers and that the mammograms and ultrasounds leading up to the diagnosis be performed at accredited centers as well.
The type of biopsy a patient needs is usually the choice of the radiologist and depends on which modality best displays the abnormality. The three types of image-guided biopsies are technically similar: they are done under local anesthesia, and the biopsy needles are similar. The procedures are extremely accurate. We have successfully removed cancers as small as 2mm with the stereotactic biopsy. The biopsies have few complications. Some women develop hematomas, and less than one out of 1,000 develop an infection. The good news is that the majority of the biopsies prove to be negative. In large part because of annual screening, of those biopsies that are positive, most are either non-invasive or Stage 1 – the earliest stage, with the best prognosis.
The non-surgical, image-guided biopsy has become an integral part in the diagnosis of breast cancer over the past 20 years, proving to be as accurate, more cost-effective and less disfiguring than a surgical biopsy.
To schedule an appointment for women’s imaging with the ACR accredited Dorothy Mangurian Comprehensive Women’s Center, call 954-351-7800 or visit HolyCrossWomensCenter.com.
Howard A. Rubinson, MD, Diagnostic Radiology
Dorothy Mangurian Comprehensive Women’s Center
Several Holy Cross Hospital teams and other organizations will be present.
Relay for Life is an American Cancer Society event. An organized, overnight community fundraising walk, it features:
•Teams of people camped out around a track
•Members of each team take turns walking around the track
•Food, games and activities provide entertainment and build camaraderie
•Family-friendly environment for the entire community
Because it’s a team event, individual participants are not required to be there the entire time. But it’s so much fun, you’ll find it hard to leave!
About the Center
The Michael & Dianne Bienes Comprehensive Cancer Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida is the Cancer Care Leader in Broward County. Dedicated to providing patients with precise diagnosis, the latest and most advanced treatment and aftercare options, we offer a multidisciplinary approach to care, a compassionate and spiritual healing environment, and an affiliation with the National Cancer Institute. We are also working together with Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center to provide South Florida residents with rapid access to specialized cancer care and genetics counseling.
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