Patient Stories

Cathy Gillette

Cathy Gillette – Breast Cancer

“The staff at the Spokane CyberKnife and Radiation Oncology Center understands patients may be somewhat frightened or anxious because of they have been diagnosed with cancer. They work hard to make it an upbeat place where questions get answered, and they make you feel confident about the situation!”

Cathy’s Story

Retired school counselor Cathy Gillett leads a very active lifestyle. At 71, she enjoys running on the invigorating trails of Spokane Valley, and her favorite pastime is playing pickleball: a type of racquet sport. When it comes to these passions, Cathy is no casual: she is the very definition of a person who lives her life to the fullest.
Following a mammogram, physicians discovered a tumor on Cathy’s left breast, which was removed through a lumpectomy. Despite the success of the surgery, there was a chance that small clusters of cancer remained in the treated area: this was a risk she would not take. Quickly, her surgeon referred her to the Spokane CyberKnife and Radiation Oncology Center for the latest in image-guided radiation therapy: TrueBeam technology. The system’s pinpoint accuracy would ensure whatever traces of cancer remained, if any, would be removed.

Arriving at the Spokane CyberKnife and Radiation Oncology Center for the first time, Cathy met with her treating physician, radiation oncologist Dr. Frank R. Lamm, MD, who directed her through the treatment process, and answered any questions or concerns she may have had.

“When I first went there, I watched a film about what would happen, and Dr. Lamm went over everything I watched. He was very patient, thorough, and answered any questions I had,” Cathy explains. “And after, he met with me once a week to ask if I had any more questions: this helped me relieve any anxiety I had about it. It was a very positive experience!”
One of the core strengths of the TrueBeam system is its non-intrusive advantage: short beams of concentrated radiation are delivered with extreme accuracy, which shrinks tumors while leaving healthy tissue undamaged. A second form of non-intrusiveness in which TrueBeam shines is its quickness compared to other forms of radiation oncology. TrueBeam procedures typically last just a few minutes, which in today’s busy world, is an especially important trait: patients are able to be treated with little pause and can return to their lives. For a person with an active lifestyle like Cathy, this distinction was a crucial element on her path to recovery, and the flexibility in planning her appointments made it even more powerful.

“The treatment schedule was designed around my schedule, which was very convenient,” she explains. “They made it very accommodating for me; it made me feel that cancer wasn’t running my life.”

Adding to this convenience, TrueBeam technology allows patients to comfortably lay prone during the process while skilled radiation therapists operate the equipment.
“I was amazed at how quickly and efficiently everything was handled. I just laid in the bed for about five minutes, then got up and went!” Cathy exclaims. “It was all very easy, comfortable, and I could tell my energy was getting better every day – through most of the whole procedure I was still running on the trail!”

Cathy’s experience at the Spokane CyberKnife and Radiation Oncology Center was overwhelmingly positive both mentally and physically. Thanks to the center’s highly trained staff, latest and greatest technological advantages, and friendly, encouraging demeanor, the pickleball pro is back on the court and ready to serve her next match.

“I would absolutely recommend the Spokane CyberKnife and Radiation Oncology Center, and would tell them, ‘Go there! You’re in the best of hands!’ The speed and organization of the center really stands out. It’s just an amazing place.”