Overcoming cancer with new TomoTherapy treatment - AmericaNowNews.com

Overcoming cancer with new TomoTherapy treatment

A cancer diagnosis is mind-blowing and thinking about treatment is even scarier. In some cases, you might even have to leave your family and your support network to get specialized treatment. Now there's one radiation therapy available in our own back yard that's getting really good results.

A little over a year ago, Dorothy Mortensen started feeling sick.

"I was feeling like a washed out rag," she recalls.

It was a feeling she couldn't shake. A CAT scan found the bad news -- lung cancer.

"I really thought the way I felt, the way I looked and the way I was going ... I really thought I wasn't going to make it. I thought I wouldn't be here for Christmas."

But Mortensen made it through a year of chemotherapy. Radiation has proved particularly tricky in her case, as the tumor is dangerously close to her heart. Aggressively treating it can make her sick and could damage other organs.

That's where the TomoTherapy machine comes into play. Oncologist Dr. Stephen Andrews says: "We know through studies that there are some tumors, like prostate cancer or lung cancer, that the more radiation we can give, the better chance we have at controlling the disease. TomoTherapy and machines like that allow us to give more radiation where it's important and protect the healthy tissue."

Andrews says it's a unique way to treat his patients for cancer -- and one that gets results, reducing side effects.

"That machine takes a CAT scan every day to make sure we're hitting the tumor," he says. "It allows us to be very precise. Plus, it treats at 360 degrees, which allows us to be conformal, or tight, around the target or the cancer."

The machines are still very rare.

"It's very important, because radiation is typically given five days a week for five to seven weeks," says Andrews. "If you needed a special treatment where you had to go to [a different city], for example, to get the TomoTherapy treatment you'd have to be displaced from your family. It's hard to put a value on it, but it's tremendously important to have that social network to support you."

Being able to get this life-saving procedure just miles from her home means a lot to Mortensen.

"I'm not good at going places," says Mortensen. "I don't think I'd want to do that. To be honest with you, I don't think I would have done anything."

Her tumor hasn't spread -- which is good news for a lung cancer patient. Now she's getting used to the new radiation therapy.

"It's a piece of cake. I'm a pro at this thing now," Mortensen says.

At 86-years-old she's ready to face this one -- fighting for her life with modern medicine and spirit.

"I'm really feeling fine," she concludes. "For the way I felt, I just didn't want to live anymore. I've come a long way."

Copyright 2011 America Now. All rights reserved.

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