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Avera Cancer Institute Sioux Falls

1000 E. 23rd Street
Sioux Falls, SD 57105

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Breast Cancer Survivor Chooses Advanced Treatment Option

Sherri BaseleyWhen Sherri Baseley of Sioux Falls was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 52, she started looking for cutting-edge treatment options.

“My mom’s a 20-year survivor of breast cancer. Yet the treatment I saw her go through with mastectomy and chemotherapy was so radical. I was very open to any new suggestions,” Sherri said.

Sherri turned to the Internet, and noticed a mention of a novel research study involving IORT in the treatment of breast cancer on the website of Dr. Julie Reiland with Avera Medical Group Comprehensive Breast Care.

Electron-based IntraOperative Radiation Therapy is being offered on a research basis at the Avera Cancer Institute for certain women with early-stage breast cancer. The treatment plan begins with lumpectomy, also known as breast conserving surgery. After the lump is taken out and before the incision is closed, the woman is given a dose of radiation directly to the tumor site. Then, instead of the traditional six weeks of external beam radiation treatments after lumpectomy, the woman has only three weeks of treatments. “When I learned about it, I felt like this was God’s plan for me,” Sherri said.

“New technology is incredible. It makes so much sense to do the radiation treatment when the tissue is exposed to stop any additional growth,” Sherri said.

When Sherri was seen by Dr. Reiland, “she said I was a perfect candidate. I was thrilled I only had to do three weeks of radiation instead of six weeks.”

“I had done my routine screenings, so I wondered how the cancer got missed. But I learned that the cancer cells had probably been growing for four years before they became visible on the mammogram. That made me feel a little less freaked out. We caught it as early as it could have been caught,” Sherri said. “I just considered it a health issue that needed to be dealt with.”

While no one chooses to have breast cancer, the news only got better for Sherri. Having recently lost about 40 pounds, her breasts had lost some of their original shape. Through a procedure known as oncoplasty, Dr. Reiland could reshape Sherri’s breasts during the same surgical procedure as well.

Testing of the tumor type showed that Sherri’s type of cancer has a 95 percent survival rate. That’s something she can feel good about as she and her husband, Jeff, have a 25-year-old daughter, as well as a 28-year-old son.

“I’m so much of an advocate now about early detection,” Sherri said. “I tell my friends to get in and get their mammograms done.” Sherri also felt good about taking part in a research study that may improve breast cancer treatment for women in the future.

One of the clearest benefits of IORT is shortened treatment time, especially for women in rural communities. “It’s enough of a hardship to go in for radiation every day when you live in Sioux Falls, let alone a rural community,” Sherri said.  During her three weeks of radiation treatment that followed surgery, “I could go in for my treatments every morning at 8 a.m., and then go right to work, but still, the shortened treatment time was wonderful.”

While the cancer is gone, Sherri said she won’t officially get to say she’s cancer-free until she goes for five years without a recurrence. “In the meantime, I’m going to be educating others – my friends and my family.”