“You have breast cancer.” Four words no one wants to hear. “When the doctor first told me, I was so overwhelmed and not processing the words at all,” explains breast cancer survivor Darlene McGurn, 63, wife, mother, personal trainer and Barrington, Ill. resident. “It was the strangest feeling, and the hardest part was telling my loved ones because I didn’t believe it myself.”
“I am so blessed to have a good friend that told me to pick up the phone right away and call Dr. Barry Rosen, a breast cancer surgeon at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington. I am so thankful that I did,” she says.
Dr. Rosen met with Darlene and presented a treatment plan. “Darlene was fortunate that her cancer was at an early stage and well localized to one small area in the breast,” Dr. Rosen explains. “We discussed the options. Darlene was an ideal candidate for Intraoperative Radiation Therapy (IORT). During IORT, the seven weeks of traditional external beam radiation therapy are condensed into a simple 30 minute treatment at the time of a lumpectomy.”
“This was an easy choice for me, as I had the peace of mind that I did not have to go back to have radiation treatments,” Darlene says.
She was also interested in undergoing a simultaneous breast lift and reduction, so as to minimize the changes that could result from her cancer surgery. Rosen says that this technique, called oncoplastic surgery, and reduction were performed to assure the best aesthetic outcomes for Darlene.
Darlene’s surgery with the lumpectomy, IORT and oncoplastic surgery lasted three hours and was performed by a team of specialists including Dr. Rosen, Dr. Stephen Madry, a plastic/reconstruction surgeon, Dr. James Ruffer, a radiation oncologist, and a medical physicist at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital.
“Our first priority as cancer surgeons is to do all that we can to cure our patients of their cancer. However, if we can do so in the least traumatic manner, our patients can start the process of healing and recovery much sooner,” explains Dr. Rosen. “We are really fortunate at Good Shepherd Hospital to have a dedicated group of physicians that work together daily, all of whom will drop what they are doing and see a new cancer patient within days of their diagnosis to provide the best care to our patients.”
“While not for everyone, IORT is particularly advantageous for well-selected women who undergo a simultaneous breast reduction since our goal is to target the breast tissue adjacent to where the cancer was removed,” says Dr. James Ruffer. “Localizing this area can be very difficult after the fact, but extremely precise at the time of surgery.”
Dr. Steven Madry adds, “Our best results occur when I work side-by-side with the cancer surgeon in the operating room to apply our collective knowledge. What I find most gratifying is to be able to tell a woman diagnosed with breast cancer that she may actually look better after her surgery than she did before her cancer surgery.”
“I am so appreciative of all of my doctors,” Darlene says. “Within a few days of my surgery on July 12, 2016, I was dining at a local restaurant with my husband. I am feeling great and am cancer-free. The key for me was eating right, exercising and staying positive. I always say, my glass is not half full – it is completely full!”