Health

Feb 27, 2013 7:36 PM by Jennifer Horbelt and Eugene Daniels

Livin' With It Part 2: Innovative Breast Cancer Procedure

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO- One in three people will be diagnosed with cancer. Statistics like that are why awareness and knowledge are keys in the fight to beat this disease.

February is National Cancer Prevention Month. News 5 is taking a closer look at how our state is affected by this disease in this special series, 'Livin' With It'. From the impact cancer has on patients, to innovative cancer treatments right here in our area, to resources for dealing with the physical and emotional scars cancer leaves on patients and their loved ones.

"It was devastating," Jennifer Kronebusch said of her breast cancer diagnosis, which came as it does for most patients. A shock. "Unfortunately for me, I had skipped three years of going to get a mammogram, so it was a big eye opener."

Fortunately, it was diagnosed in the early stages. Her journey brought her to the Penrose Cancer Center, and Director of Breast Oncology Dr. Toni Green-Cheatwood. Dr. Green-Cheatwood says the cancer conversation is never an easy one.

"When they deal with the word cancer, they start dealing with is it gonna kill me?" Dr. Green-Cheatwood said.

When doctors like Dr. Green-Cheatwood go into surgery, they need help identifying which part of the breast to remove.

"Typically, that's been done with a wire, where the morning of surgery a woman goes to the radiology department, has a wire placed into the breast," Dr. Green-Cheatwood explained of the more common procedure, called needle localization.

Now, there's something called radioactive seed localization. Instead of a wire, a titanium 'seed' is placed at the biopsy point. It's tiny, but it makes a big difference.

"This allows us to only do what we need to do, and leave the woman with as much normal breast tissue and normal shape as possible," Dr. Green-Cheatwood said of the advantage of using seed localization.

"Almost like a sewing machine needle, boom boom," Jennifer explained of the experience of having the seed implanted in the breast a few days before surgery. "And then the seed went in, and it was fine. In fact, my husband and I went to lunch afterwards and I felt great."

"Having had patients who've had both a wire procedure previously, and the seed, you really get from the horse's mouth that yeah, this is a lot easier to undergo," Dr. Green-Cheatwood said.

The seed is removed along with the cancer tissue during surgery.

Jennifer is now cancer free. She's grateful for how the technology available today helped her, and for the future she wasn't sure she'd have.

"I look at life very differently," Jennifer said. :It's kinda' like, people say, you've been given a second chance, and I've been given my second chance, and I'm enjoying life a lot."

Our last story for this series 'Livin' With It' will take a closer look at local resources to help patients and family members cope with what comes after their cancer fight.

Below are a list of links to help you learn more about cancer and the resources available in Southern Colorado:

To view clinical trials taking place at the Penrose Cancer Center, click here.

To view patient and family support at Penrose Cancer Center, click here.

To view the Centura Cancer Center, click here.

To view more on the St. Mary-Corwin Hospital Dorcy Cancer Center, click here.

To view Memorial Hospital's Cancer Center, click here.

To view the National Cancer Institute, click here.

To view the American Cancer Society, click here.

To view Relay for Life, click here.

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