Kimberly is an energetic woman with a fast-paced job managing a restaurant. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer, Provision CARES Proton Therapy helped keep her on her feet through treatment.
With a grandmother and two aunts diagnosed with breast cancer, Kim started yearly mammograms early. At age 39, her mammogram showed a possibility of breast cancer, and she went in for a biopsy December 18, 2013. She was out of town on December 20, when her doctor called with the news. She had breast cancer in the early stages, and six weeks of radiation, plus a lumpectomy or mastectomy was recommended.
Because of the placement of Kim’s tumor, traditional radiation could have potentially affected her lungs, giving her a higher chance of developing lung cancer later in life. Traditional therapies also increase the chance of radiation scattering to the opposite breast. Radiation oncologists at Provision say this is not an immediate effect, but there is the potential for long-term radiation damage to the left side of the chest. This includes a higher incidence of heart disease and a higher incidence of lung cancer.
Proton therapy is certainly advantageous for younger women, especially since many chemotherapy drugs can also potentially affect the heart. The proton beam can be controlled to send as little radiation as possible to nearby organs. This means patients get the same benefit for the breast as they would with traditional radiation, but there is less irradiation of internal organs, reducing the risk of damage to the heart and lung.
Taking all that into account, Kim chose proton therapy and became the first breast cancer patient to complete treatment at Provision.
“Everybody here was so nice,” she said. “They are very caring and wonderful people. I would suggest this 1,000 times over traditional radiation. I got very lucky. It could have been way worse.”