Sharon Anaya has always been healthy, so when the 48-year-old resident of the Piper area of Kansas City, Kan., began experiencing problems with her balance several months ago, she had reason to be concerned.
Anaya said she went to see her primary care proider, Sandy Sudeman, at Providence Care Bonner Springs.
“My main symptom was that I felt dizzy or off balance when I would stand up or sit down,” Anaya said. “My left hand and arm were also gradually going numb, but I thought I had developed carpal tunnel syndrome.”
Preliminary testing didn’t reveal any obvious health problems, but Anaya’s symptoms continued and seemed to be worsening.
“I didn’t have headaches or seizures, but just before I received my diagnosis, I noticed some problems with my speech, and I wasn’t sure why,” she said.
A Magnetic Resonance Imaging scan revealed the reason for Anaya’s balance problems—a racquetball-sized tumor on the left side of her brain. “The tumor was very fast-growing, so it was important to do something right away,” she said.
Anaya was referred to Dr. Frank P. Holladay, a board-certified neurosurgeon on staff at Providence Medical Center, Kansas City, Kan. Dr. Holladay confirmed the tumor location and scheduled surgery immediately.
“Dr. Holladay performed the surgery to remove the tumor on Oct. 26,” Anaya said. “I spent 10 days in the hospital. The doctors and nurses were wonderful to me—they treated me like family.”
In a sense, the Providence staff is like an extension of Anaya’s family. Her husband, Mike Anaya, is a long-time Providence associate and administrative director of Providence and Saint John Hospital’s support services. Many of his co-workers prayed and supported the couple throughout her challenging diagnosis.
Shortly after recovering from surgery, Anaya returned to Providence to begin a six-week regimen of radiation and chemotherapy treatments. The Providence cancer team took a multi-disciplinary approach to treating Anaya.
Dr. Frank T. Slovick, a board-certified oncologist, directed her chemotherapy treatments. Dr. O.K. (Kenny) Macdonald, a board-certified radiation oncologist, managed her radiation treatments, using the hospital’s advanced radiation therapy equipment to destroy any remaining tumor cells.
Throughout the treatments, Anaya found the Providence Cancer Center’s staff to be compassionate and helpful. “I was terrified to have to go through treatment the first time, but the staff answered my questions and eased my fears,” Anaya said.
Six weeks later when Anaya finished her treatments, it was the day after Christmas. Looking back, she said the worst side effect she experienced was fatigue.
Today, Anaya continues to take maintenance chemotherapy, but is doing her best to get back to her normal routine. “I’m feeling good and looking forward to spending time with my family, especially our grandkids,” she said.
Following a recent MRI scan, Anaya received the best news she could have hoped for. “There is no sign of the tumor,” she said. “Dr. Holladay was able to successfully remove it, and the radiation and chemotherapy have destroyed any remaining cancer cells.”
Anaya will continue to have periodic MRI scans to be sure the tumor doesn’t return, but she credits her Providence medical team with the quick action that saved her life.
“I never considered going anywhere else. I really believe my doctors and nurses at Providence saved my life,” she said. “They have the best surgeons, oncologists and radiation doctors anywhere. I’m living proof there is no place better than Providence for cancer treatment.”
Mike Anaya agreed and added, “It was a wonderful feeling to see my co-workers take care of Sharon in such a compassionate manner. It reaffirms and strengthens my commitment to this organization.”
Providence is home to a comprehensive oncology program that is accredited by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer. The program’s skilled and compassionate staff provides leading-edge diagnostic procedures and treatment options for all types of cancer in a welcoming and supportive environment. For more information about the Providence Cancer Center, call 913-596-5010, or visit www.providencecancercare.com.
Catherine Rice is the senior associate of communications at Providence Medical Center.