Patient Success Stories
Retired Medical Secretary Gets Good News When Tumor Shrinks by 85%
Metastatic colon cancer is a frightening diagnosis, but a revolutionary treatment at Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox is giving hope – and delivering promising results – to patients like Linda Poteracki.
Poteracki and her husband, Ken, are retirees who like to keep busy. They enjoy traveling and spending time with their nine grandchildren. But in August 2017, things changed when Linda was diagnosed with colon cancer.
“It was a shock because I’ve done everything the doctors told me to do,” she said. “Being a former medical secretary you learn different things, and I knew the signs to look for.”
Her symptoms started out with a stomach ache, and then she started feeling pain in her side. After an appointment to her primary care physician, a CT scan showed colon cancer that had metastasized to her liver. (Colon cancer most often spreads to the liver, but it can also spread to other places like the lungs, brain, lining of the abdominal cavity, or to distant lymph nodes.)
Poteracki was referred to Dr. Mylene Remo, a medical oncologist on staff at Silver Cross, who recommended chemotherapy. She had five rounds of chemotherapy in October. Then in January, Dr. Reza Gamagami, general surgeon with the Midwest Institute for Robotic Surgery at Silver Cross Hospital, successfully removed the tumor from her colon.
But that still left tumors in her liver. Fortunately, interventional radiologist Dr. Ashish Vyas said Poteracki would be a good candidate for selective internal radiation therapy (SIRT), or Y-90. The treatment gets its name because it uses the radioactive element Y-90 to kill cancer cells.
This revolutionary therapy is an FDA-approved, non-surgical treatment that uses tiny beads called microspheres to deliver radiation directly to tumors in the liver.
“After reading her scans, I reached out to her oncologist because I thought she’d be a perfect candidate for this treatment option,” Dr. Vyas said. “She received only one treatment dose to her right liver lobe, the dose of which was specific to her and her tumor burden to her liver.”
Dr. Vyas said Poteracki had an excellent response to the treatment. Just six weeks later, the tumor had shrunk by about 85 percent, and she’s had no complications or difficulty since undergoing the procedure.
“It was a very simple procedure,” Poteracki said. “I wasn’t ill or tired after.”
Poteracki especially appreciated how much time Dr. Vyas took to explain the treatment to her.
“He drew pictures of where the tumor was and walked me through everything,” she added. “He was very informative and caring; it was great. When you have any type of cancer it’s nice when they take the time to explain everything.”
Right now, Poteracki is on a different chemotherapy regime to continue to shrink the tumor.
“You have to remain positive. That’s so important,” she said. “Stay busy with friends and family. You can go home and think, ‘Why me?’ but you can’t do that because that’s going to bring you down. So you still have to live your life.”
For more information about Y-90 at Silver Cross Hospital or to make an appointment with a cancer specialist, visit www.silvercross.org.