Patsy’s Story – Breast Cancer

Patsy, a Florida native, proud mother to two sons serving in the Air Force and wife of 29 years to her husband Jayme, was diagnosed with breast cancer on October 17, 2007. Since then she has endured a double mastectomy, five months of chemotherapy and finally, the easy part of her treatment, CyberKnife® radiosurgery to the liver and spine.

In fall 2005, Patsy started to feel a little different. She couldn’t exactly explain it but she felt overly tired and things that she usually liked to do, like shopping, just didn’t appeal to her anymore. When Patsy visited her doctor, she was told it was depression and was prescribed medication. Patsy discounted the depression theory because she was happier than she had been in years. Patsy and her husband were building their dream home, both of their sons were self-supporting productive citizens and she and Jayme had great jobs. Since the doctor didn’t find anything wrong with the tests they had run, Patsy just assumed her feelings were part of getting older and that it was in her head.

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Stan’s Story – Intestinal Cancer

In June of 2000 after experiencing epigastric pain, backache and eventually weight loss, Alan – who also goes by Stan amongst friends – was diagnosed with a rare and non-aggressive cancer in his duodenum, referred to as a schwannoma. By the time he received his diagnosis, the tumor unfortunately had grown into the head of his pancreas. As a course of treatment Stan endured nine hours of major surgery resulting in removal of the entire tumor. After a gradual recovery, Stan, husband and father of three, spent the following four years coming to terms with his diagnosis but it was never far from his mind.

In January 2007, after several months of increasing pain and gradual weight loss, Stan was told there was localized enlargement of a lymph node close to the pancreas. After three months of tests, doctors informed Stan that his tumor had returned. Again the tumor was only small and slow growing but unfortunately it had wrapped itself around a major blood vessel.

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Danny’s Story – Stage IV Melanoma that Spread to the Lung

In December 2004, there was a death warrant out for Danny. The 55- year-old Houston native had a routine CT scan that revealed a tumor the size of a lime on his left lung. A biopsy showed that the tumor was malignant, a result of skin cancer that he had been diagnosed with almost four years before.

“They wanted to cut me from the middle of my back, all they way around to the front and remove the bottom part of my left lung,” said Danny. “Now that I was at Stage IV with melanoma, I figured once they started cutting on me that would be the end. Most of the people I knew who were that far advanced had died.”

Danny didn’t have the patience or the time to be sidelined by major surgery. He was president of a small oil and gas company that operates wells in South Texas and Alaska. He participated in competitive shotgun shooting and tennis, a sport he played professionally for a year in his early 20s.

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Charles’s Story – Prostate Cancer

Charles knew just who to turn to when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. His daughter Janice isn’t a surgeon or a urologist, but she is a radiation therapist who works everyday with cancer patients at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas.

In January 2007, 71-year old Charles – who with his wife Dorothy spends his winters in Fort Mojave, Ariz., and summers in Negley, Ohio, near where he raised his family – learned that he might have prostate cancer. A routine physical showed that Charles’ prostate specific antigen levels had risen considerably since his last examination. His doctor told him this could be indicative of prostate cancer. A biopsy in May confirmed his worst fears. “I was scared to death,” said Charles.

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Karen’s Story – Bile Duct Cancer

Karen Vinci is a 57-year-old native Californian who was born and raised in the Bay Area and continues to work at her family’s restaurant, The Fat Lady, a long-time landmark and one of Oakland’s finest eateries.

In 2003, after a routine physical, Karen was diagnosed with bile duct cancer (Klatskin tumor in the left & right hepatic ducts). After a biopsy confirmed cholangiocarcinoma Karen underwent 12 hours of surgery to remove the malignant tumor. The surgery was complicated. Karen’s doctors at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Medical Center removed 2/3 of her liver, the common bile duct, the gall-bladder and cystic, along with the hepatic artery that was grossly involved with the disease.

Due to some additional complications her doctor inserted two internal/external stent catheters to allow the bile in her liver to drain properly. Consequently, in order to avoid serious bile infections, Karen must visit Interventional Radiology at UCSF Medical Center every four to five weeks to remove and replace her bile stent/drain catheters.

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Sean’s Story – Orbital Lymphangioma

Sean is your typical 12 year old. The outgoing sixth-grader from Tacoma, Wash., plays drums in the school band and can’t get enough of his favorite XBOX 360 video game, “Oblivion: The Elder Scrolls”. His favorite class is language arts because he loves to read. He’s got two orange and white tabby cats, Melvin and Gisella, and a pointer mix named Mac.

But not too long ago, Sean was much shyer and socially awkward, embarrassed by his appearance and experiencing severe vision problems. Sean was suffering from a condition called orbital lymphangioma, in which a benign tumor was growing behind his right eye.

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Herb’s Story – Trigeminal Neuralgia

As an entrepreneur, Herb traveled all over the world training employees and factory workers how to use his machines to cut mattes for picture framing. But when he was stricken with trigeminal neuralgia in 2003, Herb could barely walk out his front door.

Often called the suicide disease because a significant number of patients have taken their lives due to the extreme pain, Trigeminal neuralgia is considered to be one of the most painful conditions with which a person suffers repeated episodes of severe sudden burning or shock-like facial pain. The intensity of pain can be physically and mentally incapacitating and can last for days, weeks or months at a time. The attacks often worsen over time, with fewer and shorter pain-free periods before they recur.

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Scott’s Story – Prostate Cancer

What he thought was an ordinary drive home from watching a spring training baseball game in Ft. Myers, Fla., turned out to be a defining moment in Scott’s life.

On March 24, 2006, Scott, his wife Cathy and a couple of friends enjoyed an afternoon watching the New York Yankees take on the Minnesota Twins. While returning home to Naples, Scott’s cell phone rang.

It was a call from his urologist, Dr. David Spellberg. Just a couple months before, Scott had been referred to Dr. Spellberg because, during a routine physical, his family physician discovered that Scott’s Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) level had risen by more than a point and a half, to 3.68, in just a year. That fateful day, Dr. Spellberg called with Scott’s biopsy results. He had prostate cancer.

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Suzanne’s Story – Brain Tumor

For 34-year-old Suzanne, nothing is more important than being the best mother possible to her young children. But in the fall of 2005, a discovery during a routine brain scan threatened to hinder the Phoenix, Ariz., mom’s ability to care for her children.

Several years before, doctors had discovered that Suzanne had a pineal cyst, a benign lesion in her brain that was causing no adverse symptoms. To ensure that the cyst did not grow or change, Suzanne had regular brain scans. However, as she was going in for an MRI in October 2005, Suzanne had a feeling that something was wrong, even though she was not experiencing any specific problems. She was right – the scan showed a growth in her brain, but it wasn’t the pineal cyst.

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Donald’s Story Brain – Tumor and Prostate Cancer

Donald got a second chance at life…twice.

In early 1999, Donald’s grown children noticed that when he watched sports on television, the sound was turned up very loud. Because he had a family history of deafness, Donald made an appointment that February at Stanford University’s California Ear Institute. Doctors there did a routine hearing exam, which also included an MRI of Donald’s brain, and scheduled him for a follow-up appointment three weeks later.

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