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Intracranial Treatment: A Closer Look at Stereotactic Radiosurgery at Turville Bay

“We’ve been growing our stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) program at Turville Bay to enable more treatment design options for physicians and their patients,” says Dr. Michelle Mackay, Radiation Oncologist and Medical Director.

SRS, a non-surgical method, utilizes a stereotactic linear accelerator to treat abnormalities of the brain. It offers precise delivery of a single high dose while sparing normal cells. SRS is ideal for treating brain metastases and tumors, both malignant and benign, located deep within the brain. Turville Bay’s Radiation Oncologists work in tandem with the patient’s neurosurgeon to perform the procedure. On the team also are radiation physicists, nurses, and radiation therapists.

Varian’s TrueBeam linac is the primary SRS treatment system at Turville Bay. TrueBeam works by combining highly sophisticated imaging, treatment delivery, and motion management technologies, making it possible to deliver precise treatments quickly while compensating for tumor movement.

Dr. Michelle Mackay notes that while state of the art SRS technology is crucial, “it’s the team of people caring for each patient that is especially reassuring.”

The Benefits of Caregiving

As a radiation oncologist, Dr. June Kim interacts not only with patients but also their loved ones, many of whom are, or will become, the caregiver. Caregiving, whether temporarily during cancer treatment or for longer periods of time, can be taxing but as Dr. Kim shares, caregiving can also have some surprising benefits.

“Each person involved in the patient’s life becomes part of the journey – giving your gift of time will make it memorable for your loved one and for you. The caretakers’ role in helping everyone to face the situation and maintain a positive attitude is so important,” according to Dr. Kim.

And you don’t have to be a full-time caregiver to help, Dr Kim adds, “Whether your talent is helping with well-balanced meals, running errands, participating in entertaining distractions or engaging in active listening – all become a part of the healing process.”

Dr Kim also advises caregivers to take time out for themselves.  Carve out time to do the activities that replenish your mental and physical energy. Something as simple as “listening to quiet music can have a tremendously relaxing effect on the mind and body.”

Dr Kim’s final advice is, “Don’t worry too much about the destination. Savor the journey. Make it memorable along the way by focusing on how far you and your loved one have already come.”

Get to Know Dr. June Kim

Madison Wisconsin Radiation Oncologist at Turville Bay - Dr. June KimDr. June Kim can be found on many evenings on the dance floor. “My greatest enjoyment comes from ballroom dancing,” she says, “gliding to the gentle music of waltz!” By day, Dr. Kim is a passionate advocate for her patients at Turville Bay. Her medical team and her patients are at the center of her life. “We are a complete package. Along with having state of the art technology, it is the compassionate, well-educated and well-trained staff that defines us. Their passion and commitment ensure the very best in patient care.”

Dr. Kim admires those who give their best in both their professional and personal lives. “Those who continually strive for excellence in whatever they are involved in tend to shine,” Dr. Kim notes. “I feel so fortunate to work with so many of these individuals at Turville Bay Radiation Oncology.”

“My subtle sense of humor usually sneaks up on people.”

Known for her devotion to patients, Dr. Kim uses Turville Bay’s technology in treatment. But her keen listening skills put her in tune emotionally with her patients. “This disease teaches you to enjoy the simple things in life. I am reminded of that by my patients each day.”

Dr. June Kim, Radiation Oncologist at Turville Bay Madison Wisconsin

Left: Dr. Kim with an attendee at the Turville Bay Cancer Survivor’s event, June 2015.  Top center and right: Ballroom dancing is Dr. Kim’s passion. Bottom right: Dr. Kim with her oncology nurse, Donna.

Intracranial Treatment: A Closer Look at Stereotactic Radiosurgery at Turville Bay

“We’ve been growing our stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) program at Turville Bay to enable more treatment design options for physicians and their patients,” says Dr. Michelle Mackay, Radiation Oncologist and Medical Director.

SRS, a non-surgical method, utilizes a stereotactic linear accelerator to treat abnormalities of the brain. It offers precise delivery of a single high dose while sparing normal cells. SRS is ideal for treating brain metastases and tumors, both malignant and benign, located deep within the brain. Turville Bay’s Radiation Oncologists work in tandem with the patient’s neurosurgeon to perform the procedure. On the team also are radiation physicists, nurses, and radiation therapists.

Varian’s TrueBeam linac is the primary SRS treatment system at Turville Bay. TrueBeam works by combining highly sophisticated imaging, treatment delivery, and motion management technologies, making it possible to deliver precise treatments quickly while compensating for tumor movement.

Dr. Michelle Mackay notes that while state of the art SRS technology is crucial, “it’s the team of people caring for each patient that is especially reassuring.”

Get to Know Dr. Michelle Mackay

Dr Michelle Mackay, Turville BayDr. Michelle Mackay starts her day at home with her husband and two children like any other mom. But at Turville Bay she puts on her white lab coat and spends her days with her medical team and her patients. “Every day is different because every patient is unique," she says. Before a patient's treatment can begin, her math and physics skills are tested each day as she works with Turville Bay's medical physicists and dosimetrists. An extensive treatment  plan is created by the team for every patient. “It's work that my patients don’t see, but it’s a critical part of their care.” Each plan can take up to three weeks, depending on its complexity. As the treatment plan is completed, each patient’s journey continues as the radiation oncology portion of treatment begins.

"Radiation Therapy is one of the best weapons we have to fight cancer."

Known for her compassionate care, Dr. Mackay uses every tool Turville Bay has to beat cancer. But it’s her compassionate care that her patients appreciate most. “I never forget the human side of the fight. Hope. It’s my secret weapon.”

Get to Know Turville Bay's Dr. Michelle Mackay

Left: Dr. Mackay with her husband, Logan, and daughter, Audrey, at the Wisconsin Union.  Right: In Turville Bay’s Healing Garden.

Coping with Cancer During the Holidays

The holiday season can be stressful under the best circumstances, but even more so if you or a family member are dealing with cancer. You may not have the energy to shop or feel up to going to a holiday party, but that doesn’t mean you need to isolate yourself. This is the time to speak up for what you need to help you both physically and emotionally.

Here are a few things to consider:

Learn to say no without guilt

It is important to understand your limitations and put your needs first. Holiday events can be both physically and emotionally draining. If you do not feel up for something, say so and do not feel guilty. If there is a family tradition that you do not have the energy for, it is OK to skip it this year. Ask people to come to you for a casual visit, so you can interact with loved ones without all the exertion.

Create new ways to celebrate

The holidays are often filled with so many parties and events, that people do not fully appreciate the season. Barb Thiermann, Executive Director at Turville Bay, suggests, “taking time to actually enjoy the season.” Take advantage of your downtime to reflect on what is most important to you. Then start new traditions that fit your energy level- perhaps singing Christmas carols or watching a favorite movie with family or friends.

Find alternatives to shopping

Shopping can be exhausting, especially if you are undergoing cancer treatment. Even online shopping can be taxing with the array of options. “Ask family and friends to help with shopping,” Barb suggests. Or consider a gift of your time- a phone call to catch up with a friend or an invitation for coffee.

Seek Support

“It’s amazing how helpful it is to talk to someone who has been through what you are dealing with,” says Richard, an oral cancer survivor on his experience with support groups. Gilda’s Club Madison and the Dane County American Cancer Society are just two of the many local organizations that offer support for cancer patients, caretakers, family and friends.

Find ways to show your gratitude

It may be hard to feel gratitude when faced with cancer, but doing so can help you emotionally.  Here are some simple ways to put this into practice: write down 5 things that you are grateful for each week, do one thoughtful thing for someone each day, say thank you for every kind gesture, and express your admiration for someone’s skills or talents.

Man, We Need to Talk.

Dr. James RichardsonThe prostate. It’s a tiny little gland with a big impact on men’s lives.

Most guys will have a problem with their prostate at some point, it’s simply part of aging for men. And, one in seven American men will develop prostate cancer in his lifetime. In fact, this year there will be 220,800 new cases diagnosed. Some of them will have a form of prostate cancer that’s  quite harmless. But some men will develop a faster growing form that can  be life threatening. Of them, more than 27,000 men will lose their fight this year.

Between the numbers are millions of men whose quality of life are affected  by their prostate. And it’s not always cancer. Echoing some of the  symptoms of cancer are those of BPH (a treatable disease called Benign  Prostatic Hyperplasia). Your GP and urologist will sort out the BPH from the prostate cancer. But frankly many men with prostate cancer don’t have any symptoms until the cancer has slipped out of the gland and into the spine or somewhere else in the body.

There is good news here. It’s highly treatable when found early. The down side is that when screening we find many more of the harmless cancers and it’s sometimes tough to tell the difference. This leads to unnecessary treatment. As Radiation Oncologists we rely heavily on Gleason scores, (the combination of numbers from the PSA and DRE), the man’s age, ethnicity, family history, and a careful consideration of his overall health. Probably the toughest thing for the men we serve is asking some of them to consider watchful waiting or active surveillance when a PSA score is high, and/or a DRE reveals an issue.

What’s the answer? More research, now. Along with some big studies that will conclude in the next couple of years, we hope tests will be developed as the fresh data comes available to help guys deal with this decision. To screen, or not to screen? If you’re a guy that can learn to watch and wait it’s a good idea to screen most men at age 50, age 45 if you are African American or have a family history. Then your physician will monitor changes so you may have a PSA and DRE every 3, 6, or 12 months to monitor changes depending on your risk factors. Because, it’s better for you to live with a harmless tumor that will never hurt you than have treatment you don’t need. Treatment can be started if the cancer seems to be growing based on a rising PSA level, or a change in the DRE, leading to concerning biopsy results. A lot of factors to consider? Yes. But man, we’re right here with you.

Celebrating YOU!

Our fifth annual Cancer Survivors Ice Cream Social was our best yet. Thanks to all of you who came to celebrate.  It was wonderful to see so many survivors, caregivers, family and friends at the event.  Our staff, including our four Radiation Oncologists, Dr. Mackay, Dr. Kim and Dr. Richardson, appreciated the opportunity to connect with patients and meet their families and friends in this casual environment.  As Dr. Mackay said, “It’s a fun time to get together to enjoy life and celebrate cancer survivorship.”

Westside Andy entertained the crowd with their music and Doodlebug and Ladybug delighted guests with their balloon hats and animals. And let’s not forget the ten delicious flavors of ice cream graciously donated by Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream Company.

Leading up to and as part of the event, we asked cancer survivors to share what they’ve learned from their experience. Here are just some of the comments we received:

“There will be bumps, will you get past them? Absolutely.”

“To get through the bumps in the road takes a mental strength.”

“Getting on the road to recovery has changed my focus.”

“Your own attitude is one of your most important tools.”

Have something to add? Please share on our Facebook page. We look forward to seeing you at next year’s event!

We’d like to thank our generous sponsors and entertainers: Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream, Westside Andy, Gilda’s Club Madison, Mid-West Family Broadcasting, Brava Magazine, Adam's Outdoor, Doodlebug and Ladybug, Gunderson Funeral Home, Cress Funeral and Cremation Services, Joyce Ryan Funeral Home and H&H Electric.

Turville Bay Cancer Survivor Ice Cream SocialTurville Bay Cancer Survivor Ice Cream SocialTurville Bay Cancer Survivor Ice Cream Social

There’s Reason to Celebrate

On Sunday, June 7th we hosted our fifth annual Cancer Survivors Ice Cream Social.  The event celebrated cancer survivors, caregivers, families and friends and honored those that have not survived.

“Cancer is a very scary thing, it’s the scourge of modern society and virtually anyone will tell you that one of their biggest fears is developing cancer at some point in their life.  Whether you’ve been treated or know someone that has, I think it helps to come to the event and see that yes, you can survive cancer, it can be treated effectively, and there are people who care about you. I think that’s what people get more than anything out of our Ice Cream Social,” says Dr. James Richardson, Turville Bay Radiation Oncologist, “It’s a chance to be informal, get to know one another and see that good things come out of cancer treatment.”

We’d like to thank the people who made this celebration successful including Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream, Westside Andy, Gilda’s Club Madison, Mid-West Family Broadcasting, Brava Magazine and all the attendees. We have much to celebrate!

Dr Richardson at Turville Bay's Cancer Survivor Event

Oral Cancer

I’ve seen the uptick in HPV-related oral cancers here at home. This is the third year we’ve focused on oral cancer awareness in April at Turville Bay. Here’s why.

With more than 150 Human Papilloma-related viruses identified it’s so common that nearly all sexually active men and women get it at some point in their lives. We know that in most cases the body fights off the virus and infected cells go back to being normal. But in some cases the body is unable to clear the virus and abnormal cells can multiply, often with no symptoms, eventually forming a cancer. We know that virtually all of cervical cancers are caused by HPV-16, 18, and others, according to the National Cancer Institute. And that at least one of the same viruses, HPV-16, causes oral cancer. The virus can lie latent in the body, sometimes for decades, but it can also develop earlier in young people and we don’t know what triggers that. We know that the virus is sexually transmitted but there are questions regarding oral transmission through kissing. In fact, there’s a lot we don’t know. So let’s start with what we do know.

We all are at risk. Any person that is sexually active will probably have an HPV at some point. No longer a cancer in decline, HPV-related oral cancers are increasingly common. The alcohol/tobacco correlation still exists and there is some evidence that they create a synergy with HPV. Bottom line, we know that avoiding the excessive is smart. Multiple sexual partners, a weakened immune system, and poor dental and oral hygiene or chronic oral irritation all give this thug the opportunity it needs.

We believe that preventing oral cancer is possible. It involves personal care from each individual. As healthcare providers we can lead this battle: let’s be sure that oral cancer is part of the discussion with every patient. Awareness, risk factors, continual screening, and, yes, vaccination.

In the past we suggested that patients avoid excessive alcohol and tobacco and practice good oral hygiene. But what about explaining the benefits of using condoms correctly and consistently? Let’s share the math about reducing the number of sexual partners. And lets talk about the role oral sex plays in the spread of HPV-16. We screen for oral cancer as physicians, but the dentist or hygienist may be our best ally in uncovering oral cancers in patients early. And early detection could save that life.

Let’s vaccinate everyone. A vaccine that will prevent cancer because it protects your patient from HPV? It’s here now. It’s not perfect, but it is miles ahead of treating the cancer that may visit those that are not vaccinated. All boys and girls aged 9-12 years should be vaccinated. There are catch-up vaccines for males through age 21 and for females through age 26, if they did not get vaccinated when they were younger. The vaccine is also recommended for gay and bisexual men through the age of 26. It is also recommended for men and women with compromised immune systems (including people living with HIV/AIDS) through age 26, if they did not get fully vaccinated when they were younger.

As a community we can do better. Together we can educate and vaccinate and improve the lives of our patients.

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