It was only this past May, when Phyllis McHargue’s life was thrown into overdrive by a simple test. Phyllis had her routine mammogram done, just like she had been doing for more than 20 years, except this time Michael Bukstein, MD noticed a change in a spot he had been watching over the years. He immediately biopsied it. When the results came back…it was breast cancer.
Phyllis was diagnosed with Ductal Carcinoma In Situ, which is a form of early or non-invasive breast cancer, but without treatment, the abnormal cells could eventually turn into invasive cancer.
“I was terrified at the time, but now I realize that they made it very easy.” says Phyllis. “My doctors and the folks at the James E. Cary Cancer Center made me so comfortable, there was no reason to go anywhere else.”
Following Phyllis’s biopsy at the Hannibal Clinic, she met with Joseph Bean, MD, the radiation oncologist at the James E. Cary Cancer Center, and was offered three options for treatments. Her breast cancer was caught early enough that she chose the 5-day APBI treatment plan because it had a shorter radiation treatment schedule and because it would have very little effect on the healthy tissue – where the cancer had previously been. Also, published studies show there is very low risk of recurrence after this type of internal radiation treatment. “I was so glad that I was a candidate for this.” says Phyllis.
At a time when her mind was occupied with a billion questions, her doctors took the time to explain the process and answer her questions. Once she was ready, her APBI treatments began, twice a day for five days. The doctor inserted a small balloon attached to a thin tube inside the lumpectomy cavity through a small incision in the breast. The balloon was then inflated with a saline solution and Dr. Bean was then able to deliver the targeted therapy to exactly where the cancer was located.
With the support of her family and her co-workers at the Hannibal Convention and Visitors Bureau, she was able to receive her treatments early in the morning and in the late afternoon while still being able to go to work in between treatments.
Phyllis completed her treatments even before the shock of the diagnosis was fully realized. Looking back, she knows that she was very fortunate to be diagnosed so early and to have the 5-Day APBI as a treatment option. “My story could’ve been a lot different. I highly recommend the James E. Cary Cancer Center and APBI to anyone diagnosed with early breast cancer and to always to get your mammogram.”