For 10 years, Barbara Sundermeyer had been battling a reoccurring form
of basal cell carcinoma, more commonly known as skin cancer. She had spots
on her lip and neck that had been removed surgically and when they came
back most recently, she knew it would require the work of a plastic surgeon
to avoid scarring on her face. But then she read an article in Campbell
Health Matters about using radiation to treat skin cancer and decided it was something
she needed to look into further.
No one had ever told Barbara that radiation could be used to treat skin
cancer and since her next surgery was going to be more invasive and require
the delicate work of a plastic surgeon in Rapid City, she decided to check
into the radiation option closer to home at the
Heptner Cancer Center.
“I saw the words ‘skin care’ in the article and it jumped
out at me. It was fate in a way,” Barbara said. “I was thrilled
to see that as an option.”
It’s been a treatment option for more than 40 years, according to
Dr. John Stamato who specializes in radiation treatment for cancer.
“It really provides the best outcome,” Dr. Stamato said. “The
cosmetic outcome is absolutely wonderful with radiation. And the side
effects are only some redness at the site of the treatment area, which
resolves within a few weeks.”
There’s also the added benefit of radiation targeting a larger area
of the skin surface that will most likely kill any cancer cells in the
surrounding areas as well. With surgical procedures, there’s a greater
chance that some of the cancer cells may be missed.
Complete in just 20-30 daily treatments for four to six weeks, Dr. Stamato
said the procedure is quick, easy and painless, allowing patients to easily
maintain their normal schedule with little effect on their appearance.
Now done with her treatment, Barbara said she is very pleased with the results.
“It’s very simple,” Barbara said. “I just zip in
there and had it done. It took me longer to park the car and go in than
it did for the actual treatment.”
When she first started treatment, she did have some blistering on the inside
of her mouth and some redness around the treatment area, but the staff
at the cancer center helped her find some mouth wash and cream that would
help sooth those areas. The extra care and kindness of those working at
the center are something that has stood out for Barbara.
“Every morning they greet you by name,” Barbara said. “They
explain what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. Checking
in with Dr. Stamato once a week is very reassuring.”
Couple that with the convenience of having the treatment done close to
home rather than driving several hours, Barbara said the Heptner Cancer
Center is a great option for those in the region.
“It’s convenient to have it done here rather than drive to
Rapid City,” Barbara said.
You can learn more about this treatment option available in Gillette at
the Heptner Cancer Center by calling 307.688.1950 or visiting
www.cchwyo.org/cancercare. Make sure you know all your skin cancer treatment options before you
make a decision.
Article written by Kim Phagan-Hansel, Wyoming freelance writer