Helen Parry, a Chief Medical Imaging Technologist at Royal Perth Hospital, was diagnosed with a grade two invasive ductal carcinoma in 2020.
Due to coronavirus patient restrictions in place at the time, her imaging team was unable to train using a new mammogram x-ray machine. This prompted Helen to bring forward her regular mammogram by six months to assist with training.
Much to Helen’s surprise, this coincidence led to the early detection of her cancer. The timing of the discovery meant Helen was able to access Intraoperative Radiation Therapy (IORT), a rapid radiation treatment for breast cancer. “I didn’t know much about the treatment, but when the process was explained to me, I couldn’t believe how seamless it was going to be,” Helen said.
Compared to standard radiation treatment for breast cancer, where patients can have significant scarring and painful side effects, with IORT Helen suffered very little discomfort and minimal scarring. The radiation therapy was also completed in one day, relieving her of up to six weeks of standard radiation therapy.
Helen described her experience as amazing, and said it was a relief for her and her family that she was able to access treatment with IORT. “I had no post-surgery drains, no painful side effects and I didn’t even need to take my pain medication in the weeks following the operation. I was truly amazed.
“You’re dealing with a lot already with taking in your diagnosis and thinking about your future, so not having to deal with other side effects of treatment that leave you feeling more vulnerable and possibly in pain, it was such a relief.
The outcome has been so good that I just can’t speak highly enough of it, and I can’t thank the donors enough for their generosity.
IORT is available to eligible breast cancer patients at St John of God Subiaco Hospital thanks to philanthropic donations that funded the advanced medical equipment.
This treatment has helped over 50 women since early 2020, and will continue to support advanced cancer treatment for many more.