Cancer Treatments: Better Today, Better Every Day
Paula Lemke is a three-year survivor of endometrial cancer. She was first diagnosed in 2013 and then tackled a recurrence in late 2015. It’s the same cancer her mother successfully fought off some sixty years earlier.
“My mother had to put up with a lot of serious side effects, but I didn’t,” Paula says. “They’ve figured a lot of that out and they have ways to help you. It isn’t as bad as it used to be.”
Paula got help from a team of physicians working through Aurora BayCare’s Multidisciplinary Cancer Clinic. When she started bleeding this past December, Paula figured her cancer had returned. She saw her gynecologist on a Monday and by Wednesday she was meeting with her cancer team: Dr. Peter Johnson (gynecologic cancer surgery), Dr. Nancy Davis (chemotherapy), and Dr. Pamela Vanderwall (radiation oncology).
“They’d already seen my test results and had discussed different ways we could approach my cancer,” Paula recalls. “We talked it over, and I decided on radiation and chemotherapy.”
Paula talks about how comfortable she felt working with her physicians. “You can talk to them. They’re informative, and they’re more than happy to help you with your questions.”
And the doctors did urge questions, particularly regarding side effects. “My hair fell out as Dr. Davis said it would, almost to the day,” Paula recalls. “I told the doctors about feeling nauseous and they gave me medication to correct that. That was a learning experience. They need to know if you’re not feeling well so they can give you the right medication to get you through your treatment.”
This time, Paula was more proactive about sharing her symptoms so doctors could help make the treatments more comfortable. What’s more, she says, doctors worked with her to move her through the initial tests quickly, so she could make best use of her insurance benefits before the calendar year was done.
She prepped and was ready for chemo to start first thing in January, just two weeks after diagnosis. By May, she had her official all clear.
“I feel good,” she says. “Just knowing it’s gone makes you feel better.”Watch the Health Watch segment featuring Paula and Dr Johnson.