CAMBRIDGE -- Vickie Warnock of Winterset is an active woman who maintains a healthy lifestyle. After work each evening, she is often helping others or at her farm tending to her cattle. When you first meet Warnock, you'll immediately notice her energetic and kind personality. Since she is healthy and has minimal family history (of breast cancer), Warnock was naturally surprised when she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer last year.
Warnock's survivorship journey began in December of 2012 when she experienced alarming symptoms in her right breast. She wanted to be proactive and have her concerns reviewed by surgeon, Dr. Lawrence Scott. Dr. Scott immediately ordered a breast biopsy, which was positive for breast cancer. Warnock was then sent to The Ohio State University (OSU) for a second opinion with oncologist, Dr. William Farrar. Dr. Farrar performed additional surgery which confirmed the original diagnosis. Following surgery and the healing process, Warnock met with Dr. Maryam Lustberg at OSU and discussed completing the rest of treatment close to home at Southeastern Med's Cambridge Regional Cancer Center. Dr. Lustberg explained that cancer centers are held to the same guidelines determined by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) when making recommendations for the care of cancer patients. Following these guidelines helps ensure, that regardless of where you choose to receive your treatment, you will be given quality cancer care.
From June through September, Warnock received eighteen weeks of chemotherapy. Then, from October to November, she had 33 radiation treatments. After finishing radiation, Warnock had a final round of chemo. Treatment understandably took its toll and Warnock was grateful for the cancer center staff who worked to make this process as pleasant as possible. She raved on the individualized care she was given, especially by oncologist, Dr. Nabiel Alkhouri. Warnock noted that he and the staff really listened to her input during her treatment and then incorporated as many of her ideas into the treatment plan as possible. For example, she was able to decide which NCCN chemotherapy treatment she would undergo based upon her current health and lifestyle goals.
The staff at Southeastern Med's Cambridge Regional Cancer continued to impress her by their compassion and by all they do for members of our community. "They're truly exceptional people," she noted with assurance in her voice. It was evident to Warnock that she was genuinely cared about on a personal level, more than just being another patient or a number. Due to the smaller size of the cancer center, Warnock said she received individualized attention and concern that you don't always see at larger treatment facilities. All patients are important and the staff at the Cambridge Cancer Center is committed to partnering alongside folks throughout their treatment journey. Cancer treatment can be very tiring, but through it all, Warnock persevered and continued to focus on the positives in life. She explained that in all ways, "God has continued to bless me and I am very lucky".
As a Tennessee native, Warnock especially took comfort in the friendships she built with those she met at the cancer center. She explained that while at treatment, it helped to joke as much as possible to keep herself lighthearted. Warnock and other patients established strong friendships during this overwhelming season of life and that made the tough times easier. She explained that they would often sit together during treatments to serve as a strengthening support system. Cancer at any age or stage can be incredibly nerve-wracking, and oftentimes, patients may not have a friend or relative who can give emotional support. "We all got to know each other really well and were each other's support system," she said. They became like a family and shared in each other's daily joys and struggles.
She also attributes her success to her willingness to listen to the suggestions of the doctors and nurses. Warnock took their recommendations seriously and implemented them into her daily life as much as possible. If she was advised to rest, she did so and did not push her body to its limits. Vickie's final treatment was on July 29th. The feeling of completing a final cancer treatment brings emotions filled with relief and victory. She's beaming smile when speaking of that final treatment day is indescribable. When reflecting, she stated, "Since I had to have this condition, I was glad they (staff and other patients) could be my family."
The Southeastern Med cancer program has been accredited by the National Commission on Cancer for well over 20 years and is also accredited by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC). The Southeastern Med Breast Program exceeds national quality standards in needle biopsy diagnosis, appropriate lymph node biopsy techniques, lumpectomy rates, and assuring that each patient receives appropriate therapy including chemotherapy, radiation and hormone therapy. Statistics show that 95 percent of local breast cancer patients choose to stay in Cambridge for their therapy. Those patients treated locally benefit from the superb care rendered by the entire Cancer Care Team. Our local breast cancer 5 year survival rate is 93.3% as compared to the national average of 85.5 percent.These statistics continue to show the high quality cancer care that Southeastern Med and the Cambridge Regional Cancer Center continues to offer.
Southeastern Med may be able to assist you in affording your mammogram through Southeastern Med's Power Me Pink program. This program provides women and men who are uninsured and underinsured with breast health education, clinical breast exams, mammograms and additional testing if necessary. The program serves men and women 35-64 years old who earn below the poverty level with breast health education and mammograms. The project also reaches women younger than 35 years of age who have a family history of breast cancer.
To learn more about the Power Me Pink program or to schedule a mammogram, call 740-435-2500.
For more information about Southeastern Med or the cancer center visit www.seormc.org.