Breast Cancer Trial Participant Gives Back to St. Joe’s as Patient Adviser
Sandy Lymburner doesn’t like the term “survivor” in reference to her battle with breast cancer, but she accepts it graciously and gratefully. The 57-year-old Ann Arbor resident is four years cancer-free this September, and so far, she’s not only surviving – she is thriving.
She’s quick to credit her success to the team who took care of her at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor Cancer Center.
“You feel like your core group of physicians has their arms around you, and are just taking you in, and are helping you all along the way. I’ve never felt that I’ve been a number or statistic,” she said, adding, “I just felt the care here was incredible, and I wanted to be able to share the good things with people within the hospital.”
Weeks after she was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma in the right breast and lobular cancer in the left, Sandy opted for a double mastectomy in September 2014. She got her chemotherapy port the next month, fully expecting that was the next course of action.
But on the day of Sandy’s first scheduled chemotherapy session, Dr. Philip Stella – medical director of oncology at Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, and a long-time friend of Sandy’s – suggested Sandy might be able to bypass chemotherapy altogether.
This article was originally published on Sharecare.
Back in the 1930s, stomach (or gastric) cancer affected more people in the United States than any other type of cancer. Today, stomach cancer is way down the list of the country’s most common cancer diagnoses, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). What’s behind the decline?
Assorted lifestyle changes, says Anthony DeBenedet, MD, a gastroenterologist affiliated with Saint Joseph Mercy Health System in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Currently, there are approximately 26,240 people diagnosed with stomach cancer each year in the U.S. and about 10,800 people will die from it. Compared to other cancers, “stomach cancer isn’t common,” says Dr. DeBenedet. Indeed, the ACS reports that the number of people diagnosed with stomach cancer has gone down about 1.5 percent each year in the past decade, which is good news.
Prevention is Key
Patients have the best chance of recovering from stomach cancer when it’s caught early. But according to the National Cancer Institute, the disease is often diagnosed at an advanced stage when it still may be treated but is difficult to cure. That’s why it’s important to know what factors can help reduce the risk of a stomach cancer diagnosis in the first place.
Some factors associated with a higher risk of stomach cancer are outside your control, such as family history and genetics, as well as your ethnicity and sometimes where you live in the world. But there are other lifestyle factors that you can influence that are important to understand. Read on to learn more about what you can do to lower your risk.
St. Joseph Mercy Breast Imaging and Huron Valley Radiology, P.C. are offering low-cost 2D screening mammograms for $50 in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month on the following days:
Oct. 18, 2018 |Chelsea
Join us Oct. 26, 2018 for our annual Head & Neck Cancer Symposium for Professionals.
October 26, 2018 | 7:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Washtenaw Community College
Morris Lawrence Building
4800 E. Huron River Drive, Ann Arbor, MI
Registration Fee: $100
(continental breakfast, lunch provided)
4.50 AMA PRA Category 1 credits™ Register here
Surgeons at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor have totally re-engineered the way they treat colorectal cancer— before, during and after surgery–and the results have led to some of the best patient outcomes in the country for a disease that strikes more than 150,000 Americans each year.
By analyzing the entire process from the patient’s perspective, the team at St. Joe has developed a model for treatment that is setting the national standard for colorectal care. Its main components include:
Pioneering use of the minimally invasive da Vinci® Robotic Surgical System for colorectal conditions;
The “Enhanced Recovery Initiative,” (ERI); which includes comprehensive patient education and more effective pre- and post-surgical protocols.
For Robert Cleary, MD, lead physician of da Vinci surgery for colorectal cancer, it is the culmination of a 25- year career that began in general surgical residency at St. Joe and included a colorectal surgical fellowship at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas.
“St. Joe added the da Vinci to our suite of robotic surgical tools in 2006. At the time, it was being used mostly by urologists and gynecologists,” said Dr. Cleary. “I had been fellowship trained in laparoscopy, but I was convinced we could use the da Vinci for colorectal conditions, too. With its 3D imaging, greater flexibility and improved dexterity and control, I thought it would be easier than working with a laparoscope.”
ERI has shortened hospital stays by two to three days with no increase in readmission.
Well informed, well prepared patients are able to participate more fully in their own recovery.
2009 was a signature year for the Colon and RectalSurgery service. Dr. Cleary applied through the American Council for Graduate Medical Education to establish a Colon and Rectal Surgery fellowship at St Joe’s. This fellowship to train future colon and rectal surgeons was approved in 2012. The second fellow is currently enrolled in this program that includes robotic training.
As compared to traditional, open surgery, the da Vinci approach promises less blood loss, smaller scars, shorter hospital stays, lower likelihood of infection or other complications and a faster recovery time. “We also see better clinical outcomes, quicker return to bowel function and normal diet, significantly less pain and faster healing,” he said.
But spectacular as the surgical successes are, what happens before and after surgery is equally important to the overall patient experience. The Enhanced Recovery Initiative (ERI) is a program developed by Dr. Cleary and a host of colleagues in anesthesia, nursing, nutrition, case management and other disciplines.
“We sat around a table and said, ‘ok, we’re going to create an enhanced recovery protocol—much like ones that have been popularized in Sweden,’” he said. “We decided that each of us would research all the literature in our area of expertise and come back every month to discuss our findings.”
The group learned, for example, that the conventional wisdom of no food or drink 12 hours before surgery was not the best approach; that the patients actually did much better if they consumed a high carb sports drink (Gatorade) two hours before the procedure. It decreased nitrogen and protein losses, reduced insulin resistance, helped maintain lean body mass and decreased recovery time and length of stay.
“We also learned about better ways to do bowel prep, anesthetics and pain management, and we found treatments that reduced the incidence of post-surgical blood clots as well as nausea and vomiting,” he said. Other enhancements included better fluid management that speeds up the return to normal bowel function, early removal of urinarycatheters and a quicker return to post-operative feeding and mobilization.
ERI, which went live in February of 2012, has shortened hospital stays by two to three days with no increasein readmission.
Key to the success of the program is patient education that begins with the first office visit. After speaking with the physician, patients are given an information kit that includes hard copy handouts and a DVD with a 15-minute PowerPoint presentation that detail the disease process, treatment options, risks and benefits, milestones and expectations. Well informed, well prepared patients are able to participate better in their own recovery.
Dr. Cleary believes the combination of da Vinci robotic surgery and the Enhanced Recovery Initiative make St. Joe’s colorectal program the most progressive in the region. “Along with our fellowship program, it has put us in prime time and gained us a reputation as a state-of-the-art center,” he added.
Dr. Cleary is setting his sights on the outpatient experience. “We want to bring the same scrutiny to the patients’ healing process once they’ve gone home,” he said. In addition, St. Joe is working with the Michigan Surgical Quality Collaborative, a consortium of 67 hospitals across the state, to share its findings and replicate its successes statewide.