Fighting cancer with new technology

May 7, 2013

Ryan Scott Ottney

PDT Staff Writer

Shirley Manley of Peebles is a retired teacher and professional singer. Three weeks ago her love for singing was threatened when she was diagnosed with Stage I lung cancer. But now only a few weeks later, she has already completed her treatment thanks to new technologies available at the Scioto County Cancer Center in Portsmouth.

“I had a dry cough and it wouldn’t go away. We were treating it for allergies. Something just said go get it checked, get a chest X-Ray and find out what’s going on,” Manley said.

After several tests her doctor diagnosed Manley with Stage I lung cancer.

“I think what upset me most was my children’s reaction to it, more than my own,” she said. “I knew it was small and I knew that there had been a lot of advances in the medical field and that my chances of getting rid of it were good. So it wasn’t so much the fear of the cancer itself, but the trauma it caused my children. That bothered me more than that rest of it. They heard the word ‘cancer’ and thought ‘Oh, my mother is going to die’ and that affected me more than anything else and also made me say, ‘OK, no I’m not’.”

Manley was given two treatment options: surgery or radiation. She was worried how surgery might affect her singing.

“I sang at the Dayton Opera for over 20 years. I sang in Los Angeles. I sang in Pasadena. I did a lot of classical singing all my life, and the idea of losing part of my lung would have put an end to my being able to sing like I have always done. I still want to keep my lungs if I can possibly do it,” Manley said.

She was told about new cancer radiation treatment technologies available by Dr. Prakash Patel at the Scioto County Cancer Center in Portsmouth.

The HexaPOD evo RT System and the Elekta Agility Linear Accelerator is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) that delivers accuracy within one-millimeter of the cancerous area, and can reduce the number of a patient’s radiation treatments from 40 to just five. Patel began offering the Agility system to patients in January, and then in late-February further increased its accuracy by adding the HexaPOD System, which rotates the platform on which a patient rests to allow the machine to see the patient not just from three dimensions anymore, but now from six. The increased axis offered by the HexaPOD means increased precision of the treatment administered by the Elekta Agility Linear Accelerator, down to just one-millimeter.

There are currently only 15 in the entire United States, and only two within a five-state area — in Cincinnati and at the Scioto County Center in Portsmouth.

“I explained to her that this new technology has a tremendous promising result, and it is going to overcome surgical result. I don’t have any doubt. Because you are giving a very high dose in five factions. In her case we gave her 5,500 radiation dose in five factions. That is equivalent to significant high dose which will translate into higher local control and a cure. It’s just a like a surgery that will remove the cancer. This is completely killing the cancer,” Patel said.

With every treatment, X-Rays showed black holes appeared larger and more frequently in the cancerous area as it was dying inside. After just two weeks, Manley completed her fifth and final treatment at the Cancer Center on Monday.

“Really it hasn’t been bad,” she said. “I’m glad I did it. I think it was the most logical thing for me to do. I understand that surgery sometimes is the not the best thing for somebody my age and so to me this was the next best solution and it was the most aggressive way to attack the problem.”

Manley hasn’t let her cancer get in the way of living, she said. She still goes to work, still cuts her own grass, still goes grocery shopping. Now her treatment cycle is complete, but a long road still lays ahead. Manley won’t know for another three to six months if her cancer is completely gone.

“Up until this has happened to me, I really didn’t know a lot of about the cancer facilities in the area. I don’t know if it’s luck, but it was a good thing for me that this was available to me here,” she said. “Everybody in the center has been so meticulous and careful and helpful and caring. I couldn’t ask for more.”

For more information about the Scioto County Cancer Center, and their new technologies, visit them online at www.sciotocountycancercenter.com.

Ryan Scott Ottney may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 287, or rottney@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Ryan on Twitter @PDTwriter.