Successful treatment in record time

Carol TravelsteadBack in January 2007, Carol Travelstead's baseline mammogram showed a suspicious area on her left side. A subsequent ultrasound didn't reveal anything of concern, but her doctor ordered a six-month follow-up mammogram. Travelstead, age 45, comes from a very large family with "zero cancer" on either side, so she blew off the follow-up and her annual check-up. "Cancer was not on my radar screen at all," she says.

She regretted that when she discovered a lump on her left side in December 2009. She called her doctor the next day, and since she had skipped her annual exam, Travelstead requested a full mammogram—not just one targeting her left side. It's a good thing she did. The mammogram and subsequent ultrasound revealed a suspicious area—on her right breast.

"As far as emotions go, the first day was the hardest day for me and my husband because we didn't know how big or how bad it was," she says. She recalls trying to put a positive spin on it for her two children—a teenage daughter home from college and a son in the Navy who was stationed in Hawaii—so they wouldn't worry.

She received the biopsy report on Christmas Eve. She had breast cancer. Travelstead was hosting the huge extended-family gathering for the holidays. Other women might have called it off at that point, but she found having things to do and being surrounded by family proved therapeutic.

Travelstead credits breast surgeon Nate Thepjatri, M.D., his assistant and her nurse navigator for guiding her through the process. "From the moment I was in his office, I felt peaceful," she says. "He said this is treatable. It's going to be fine."

Her tumor was only one centimeter, and the prognosis for a cure was excellent. Travelstead selected a treatment plan that included a lumpectomy followed by radiation. Testing revealed her cancer was hormone-driven, so she also opted to have her ovaries removed.

Carol TravelsteadDr. Thepjatri performed her lumpectomy at Community's Indiana Surgery Center North in January 2010. He suggested she might be a good candidate for MammoSite targeted radiation—a process that allows radiation to be completed within five days instead of the traditional six-and-a-half weeks. Radiation oncologist Jianan Graybill, M.D., concurred. Travelstead, who jumped at the opportunity, began her first treatment the next day. "Why wouldn't I do it?" she says. "MammoSite was fabulous!" She completed it in early February.

Travelstead considers herself fortunate. "Literally, within a few weeks everything they were going to do to treat me had been done," she says. "It was amazing, but pretty overwhelming as well. My doctors—I could stand on the rooftop and shout how fabulous they were! This is what they do, and they do it well."