In her quaint kitchen, Lynn Bond spends the afternoon baking her favorite sugar cookies for a dinner party. She’s used this recipe for years, but this time, her motivation is different. She wants the pink ribbon-shaped cookies to help raise breast cancer awareness for her friends and family.
“I’m a breast cancer survivor,” says Lynn. “I want to open the door for those around me to be able to talk about it, and learn from my experience.”
Just a few weeks earlier, Lynn, 61, had discovered an abnormal lump on her breast that just didn’t feel right. She was alarmed, and knew exactly where to go for answers.
For more than three decades, Lynn has been in the trusting care of the specialists at the MemorialCare Breast Center at the MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute at Long Beach Medical Center. Recognized as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology, and accredited by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers, the MemorialCare Breast Center provides comprehensive breast care for women in the Long Beach community and beyond. All appointments for screenings, diagnostics and treatment are housed in one convenient location. For women, this allows for real-time results, without the anxiety of waiting.
“Breast cancer is deadly. The smallest change in a mammogram or slightest abnormality in a breast ultrasound can’t be ignored,” says Linda Chan, M.D., radiation oncologist, MemorialCare Breast Center, MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute, Long Beach Medical Center. “No one is in tune with a woman’s body better than a woman. Our all-female team of radiologists are sub-specialty trained, meaning their expertise lies in reading breast images.”
A single phone call and Lynn was immediately scheduled for an screening examination, ultrasound and biopsy. Then, Lynn learned the unthinkable truth. Her lump was one of the most common forms of breast cancer: invasive ductal carcinoma. Lynn had Stage 1 breast cancer, and was scheduled for a lumpectomy, or surgery where only the tumor is removed.
With one in eight women being diagnosed over a lifetime, breast cancer touches thousands of lives each year. To help find breast cancer early, in its most treatable stage, the Amercian Cancer Society recommends annual mammograms beginning at the age of 40. Early detection typically means that the cancer has not spread, empowering patients and physicians with the best chance for a cure.
Lynn, a former Long Beach Medical Center immunology department supervisor for 15 years, assumed she would have to undergo long and extensive radiation therapy in the weeks following her surgery. “To my surprise, Dr. Chan had a different treatment option in mind,” says Lynn.
The alternative treatment was Intraoperative Radiation Therapy (IORT). IORT delivers a concentrated dose of cancer-killing radiation directly to the breast tumor site immediately after the breast surgery. The procedure typically takes 15-30 minutes, and does not require an overnight stay at the hospital.
“Without IORT, women with breast cancer undergo surgery and then return to the hospital for radiation treatment daily for four-to-six weeks,” says Deborah Fridman, program director, Clinical Research, MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute, Long Beach Medical Center. “For women eligible for IORT, all of the radiation therapy happens while she is in the operating room. Patients like Lynn wake up cancer-free and avoid the 40-day radiation regimen that typically follows surgery.”
Lynn walked into the hospital on a Monday morning for her two-hour procedure. That same day, she was able to go home, starting her recovery and journey to being a cancer survivor. Just one week later, she was able to drive, and do the things she enjoyed most, like baking, spending time with family, and chasing her playful cat around the house.
“IORT was an obvious decision for me,” explains Lynn. “There was this emotional relief of being done, healed and back to my life right out of surgery. I’m so grateful to Long Beach Medical Center, my care team, and everyone who has held my hand through this process.”
The MemorialCare Breast Center offers Saturday appointments. To schedule your mammogram, please call 800–MEMORIAL.