May 21, 2014 9:27 PM by Annie Snead
News 5's Annie Snead spoke with a local woman who is the first to undergo a new clinical trial, focusing on removing fewer lymph nodes.
"Stay positive because it is such a rough ordeal. it is very rough, but there's light at the end of the tunnel," said Irene Dollar.
Just by Dollar's demeanor, you wouldn't guess she had breast cancer.
She was diagnosed last september.
"I felt a small lump one day and went "oh my goodness" what the heck is this," she said.
She says she always did self exams but never a mammogram. When she got the diagnosis it was obviously scary.
"Dr. Laura put everything at rest, at ease.. gives you a big hug, a big smile and says: I'll get you through this, don't worry and it really helps," said Dollar.
Breast surgeon Dr. Laura Pomerenke says Irene's study looks at lymph nodes- which have been a huge part of making treatment better.
A while back, they used to take out around 20 but it caused long term complications.
This trial focuses on not removing them all.
"At the time of her surgery, we actually looked at a couple of lymph nodes, the pathologist looked at those under the microscope while she was sleeping and then she was randomized in the operating room to not have to go a full node dissection," she said.
It's less invasive and reduces problems like lymphoma.
Dr. Pomerenke says their first goal is always to kill the cancer, whether it's with surgery, radiation or chemotherapy.
"Our job is to help minimize how much they have to go through and to give them the best quality they can afterwards," said Dr. Pomerenke.
She says in the "old days" women had radical masectomy's, they were disfigured, and because of that they didn't come in. But now if cancers are identified, early treatment can be tailored.
But the road after recovery can be a challenge.
"We have hundreds of thousands of breast cancer survivors now and there are emotional issues to deal with. there's hormones to talk about, physical issues with surgery and radiation," said Pomerenke.
"Most of the women get through this well and they get back to their normal life again, but it is hard, and there are bumps along the way," she added.
Irene Dollar is hoping by being the first in this clinical trial, it will help other woman down the road. She wants others to go in and get checked. The sooner, the better.
"Take care of it and go on about your business, you know, don't let it rule your life," Irene said.