First Case for Collaboration Brings
Peace of Mind
As NorthBay Healthcare announced its powerful collaboration with the Mayo Clinic Care Network in May, NorthBay oncologist and hematologist James Long, M.D., introduced a patient’s story to a hushed crowd of community and civic leaders, employees, volunteers and the media.
Dr. Long described his patient as a vibrant woman who was facing a recurrence of breast cancer, but in a different form. With standard treatment, what began as metastatic lobular breast cancer had gone into remission for two years, he explained.
Tests revealed she now had new masses in her liver, but this time it was metastatic ductal breast cancer. She didn’t want chemotherapy and although they had decided on a course of treatment, Dr. Long wanted a second opinion.
In the past, he would turn to a large medical center in Northern California and his patient would be on a waiting list. It might take two or three weeks to get an appointment and insurance approval would be needed. She likely would have to schedule a whole day off of work to travel to and from the appointment. Dr. Long decided it was the perfect opportunity to request his first eConsult through the yet unannounced collaboration with Mayo Clinic. He worked with NorthBay’s Keni Horiuchi, R.N., who prepared the electronic consultation—progress reports, past history, pathology samples and a PET scan—and shared it with Mayo Clinic for review on a Thursday afternoon.
Come Monday, Dr. Long had a pleasant surprise: The consulting physician had reviewed the case and rendered a full consultation. It was a thorough report that not only agreed with Dr. Long’s assessment and plans, but offered some options he had not yet considered.
“This was the best of both worlds,” said Dr. Long. “A world-class medical facility offering a three-day turnaround response on one of my patients. I couldn’t ask for more.”
And the patient?
“I couldn’t be more pleased to be the first for NorthBay Healthcare,” said local businesswoman Wendy Wasserman Kellogg, who agreed to share her story to inspire others.
Wendy’s first bout with cancer came in March 2014. There were two lumps in her breast, and it had spread to her lymph nodes, hip and spine.
She didn’t want surgery or chemotherapy unless there was no other choice. She and Dr. Long immediately began a hormone medication plan for treatment, and she opted for a strict, sugar-free, alkaline diet. By Sept. 1, she was cancer-free.
But after two years in remission, Wendy and her family learned the hard truth about her cancer—it can come back at any time, in any place.
“I’ve learned I’m always going to be on the hunt for Red October,” she said with a wry smile. “Strike that; the hunt for Pink October.”
Again, she conferred with Dr. Long for a treatment plan. And again, she wanted to avoid surgery and chemotherapy. Wendy and her husband Jim Kellogg gave their permission for Dr. Long to send her files to “an undisclosed medical entity,” putting their trust in NorthBay Healthcare. “I found out it was Mayo Clinic when Dr. Long read the report to me,” recalled Wendy, “and it was exactly, precisely on the money, what he had prescribed. I was thrilled. This collaboration is off-the-charts amazing.”
Jim, her husband of 36 years, agreed. He admits he was disappointed when the cancer came back, because he thought they’d beaten it. “But she’s so positive, and so motivated. I cried for two days, but then I pulled it together to give her the support she needs.”
Wendy, too, was disappointed by the recurrence. “But afraid? No. I can beat it,” she said. “My hope is I can help other women understand that they have the ability to take advantage of their own destiny as well.”
Especially now, with NorthBay’s membership in the Mayo Clinic Care Network, Solano County residents battling cancer and other serious diseases have more choices at no extra cost to the patient.
The busy co-owner of Wasserman Travel in downtown Vacaville was pleased she didn’t have to take time off work to travel out of town and wait weeks for a second opinion.
“It’s given me confidence that we’re on the right path. And it has given me and my entire family a chance to really breathe and not be stressing over my care,” she said. “It’s given me immense peace of mind.”
Clinical Trials Advance Treatment Options
Research physicians and nurses at NorthBay Healthcare are always on the lookout for new and improved ways to treat and beat cancer. Clinical trials are research studies that explore ways to improve quality of life and to find more effective and safer treatments for patients, whether by looking at brand new therapies or new combinations of existing therapies, according to Natasha Perkins, oncology nurse navigator. “Clinical trials are important because they help us find ways to better treat and care for our patients.”
Clinical trials provide patients with access to therapies they wouldn’t be able to get outside of the trial, Natasha added. “Because we have this program right here in Solano County, our patients don’t have to travel to the Bay Area or Sacramento for their treatments. They can get them close to home, right here in their community.”
To see a current list of the trials available at NorthBay Cancer Center, visit NorthBay.org, click on “Our Services” and then the Cancer Center page. Clinical trials are listed under “Cancer Services.”
Staying Glamorous Through
Cancer treatments may rob some patients of their hair, but that need not rob them of confidence in their appearance, according to Magi Philpot, licensed clinical social worker for the NorthBay Cancer Center.
A “Glamour Room,” filled with a collection of brand-new wigs, hats and scarves, has been set up in the NorthBay Cancer Center’s new facility, through collaboration with the American Cancer Society. The semi-private room on the third floor is staffed by volunteers and fittings are available by appointment.
Cash donations help keep the room filled with new items. Checks should be made out to NorthBay Healthcare Foundation, with Cancer Center Glamour Room in the memo field and sent to NorthBay Healthcare Foundation, 4500 Business Center Drive, Fairfield, CA 94534.
Reduce Cancer Risk
Mammography has helped reduce breast cancer mortality in the United States by nearly one third since 1990. Annual mammograms can detect cancer early, when it is most treatable, showing changes in the breast up to two years before a patient or physician can feel them.
Current guidelines from the American Cancer Society recommend that women receive annual mammograms starting at age 40 even if they have no symptoms or family history of breast cancer. Additional steps you can take to lower your risk:
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Exercise regularly, at least four hours a week.
- Limit alcoholic drinks to one per day.
- Don’t smoke.
- Limit your exposure to radiation and environmental pollution.
- Breastfeed your children, if possible.
- Limit dose and duration of hormone therapy.