Published on October 09, 2017

By your side, every step of the way

The Breast Center at St. Mary helps women make the journey through breast cancer.

Almost all of us know someone—a loved one, a friend, a neighbor—who’s faced breast cancer. Perhaps you’re facing it now.

But no matter how breast cancer touches you, here’s something you should know: More than ever, breast cancer is survivable.

Exceptional, comprehensive care

St. Mary Breast Center is nationally accredited. That means it meets—or exceeds—exacting quality standards for patient care. And St. Mary offers women the latest technology, including 3-D mammography.

Among those on the team: breast cancer specialists in chemotherapy, radiation therapy and plastic surgery; nurse navigators; and a genetic counselor to help women who might have a genetic risk for breast cancer.

This means women with breast cancer get truly comprehensive care at St. Mary—equal to that at any academic center. And that care is close to home.

If you are ever diagnosed with breast cancer, Diana Arronenzi, RN, OCN, CBPN, Breast Care Coordinator at St. Mary, will be your advocate at every step. She’ll help you with any concern—physical or emotional.

“We’ll look at all your needs,” Arronenzi says, speaking for the entire Breast Center team. “We don’t just treat breast cancer, we help the whole person.”

Deep breath, please!

Radiation therapy helps women survive breast cancer. But it comes with a risk: a slight chance of developing heart troubles years later.

Now a special technique, available at St. Mary Medical Center, can help protect the hearts of patients with breast cancer who are treated with radiation. It’s called Deep Inspiration Breath Hold. And it’s particularly beneficial for women with left-sided breast cancer. Here’s how it works:

A woman takes a deep breath and holds it for 20 to 30 seconds during radiation treatments. “When you take a deep breath, the lungs expand and the heart moves away from the left chest wall,” explains Kristine Spadaccino, Manager of Radiation Oncology at St. Mary. “This reduces or eliminates the radiation exposure to the heart.”

A special tracking technology ensures that women will hold their breath consistently during each treatment. That way radiation beams can always be precisely targeted at the cancerous breast tumors—and not the heart.

“We’re the first hospital in our area to offer this technique,” says Hiral Fontanilla, MD, a radiation oncologist at St. Mary. “And it’s empowering for women. By the simple act of holding their breath, they’re improving their own treatment.”