Connie Owen of Burbank received a visit from her mother 77 year old Phyllis Winblood

March 31, 2014
In September 2006, Connie Owen of Burbank received a visit from her mother, 77-year old Phyllis Winblood. Connie anticipated spending time doing typical mother-daughter activities, such as talking, sharing lunch and shopping. Neither woman expected to find an egg-sized lump in Phyllis' breast five days before her scheduled flight home to Virginia. “My mom is very independent. She has friends and activities that she enjoys, and she wanted to get home to them,” Connie recalls. “But we had to make sure she was okay first.” With the assistance of the patient care navigator at the Providence Breast Health Center, doctors expedited a series of diagnostic tests - including a mammogram, breast ultrasound and biopsy. Test results indicated that Phyllis had early-stage breast cancer that had not spread to other parts of her body. Doctors also determined that because of the size and location of Phyllis' tumor, she was a candidate for breast brachytherapy, a technologically advanced radiation treatment that can be completed in four to five days, compared to six or seven weeks for traditional external beam radiation therapy. “When women are diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer, we can offer less invasive options that are as good as older, more aggressive methods of treatment, explains Deanna J. Attai, MD, FACS, a breast surgeon affiliated with Providence Regional Cancer Centers. “With less invasive treatments, women experience less scarring, less pain and faster recovery. They can get back to their lives sooner.” With lumpectomy followed by breast brachytherapy, Dr. Attai and Phyllis' radiation oncologist, Chester Wilson, MD, medical director of radiation oncology at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, told Phyllis she could be cancer-free and ready to travel home within a couple of weeks after her surgery. Raul R. Mena, MD, medical director of Cancer Services at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, also recommended hormonal drug therapy with selective estrogen receptor modulators to decrease Phyllis' risk for cancer recurrence. “After the doctors explained everything, my mom just changed,” Connie reflects. “She had hope. Every corner that we turned we thought something bad would happen, and it didn't. It was miraculous the way things turned out.”