61-year-old Marie knew something was wrong when she began feeling intense abdominal pain during her water aerobics classes. An uncomfortable combination of pain and nausea prompted the Boston native to make a doctor’s appointment, where she was told that she might have pancreatic cancer. After losing two colleagues quite quickly to the disease, Marie was understandably frightened. “I had no idea what to say or ask,” she recalls.
The oncology team at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center was visually able to tell that Marie’s tumor was cancerous, but each of her four biopsies came back negative. Doctors were finally able to confirm Marie’s worst fears – she had stage 3 pancreatic cancer. After some discussion, she was prescribed a combination of chemotherapy and radiation treatments with the CyberKnife® System.
Admittedly, Marie was nervous. “When you hear the word CyberKnife, you think you are going to be cut because of the knife part,” she said. “I was scared and told the doctor that I was worried about burning my stomach because of the radiation. The doctor told me that I was not going to be burned at all. On the contrary, I shouldn’t feel a thing.” Marie’s doctor was right – her treatment experience was painless and Marie even fell asleep during the third treatment. “The treatments were painless,” recalls Marie. And best of all, Marie’s doctor told her that she is as close to remission as anyone he’s seen. Marie jokes, “My pancreatic cancer marker is 14. My doctor told me that his number, 18, is higher than mine and he doesn’t have cancer!” Tumor markers may be used to help detect, diagnose, and manage some types of cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, “Tumor markers are substances that can sometimes be found in the blood when cancer is present. Two tumor markers may be helpful in pancreatic cancer:
Since her CyberKnife treatment, Marie is spending more time with her grandchildren and is back to her daily two mile walks and water aerobics. She has been participating in pancreatic cancer walks and plans on doing more. “I am feeling so strong,” she says.
Marie has some advice for others who have been diagnosed and are just beginning their cancer journey. “There has been incredible progress made with treatments that can give you years of life. You must go into the process with an open mind, believe that you are much stronger than you think you are, and reach for your inner strength. Go for it with all you can!”
As of the creation of this patient profile, Marie found her CyberKnife treatment to be successful.