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Non-Cancerous but Crippling Tumor no Match for the CyberKnife

CyberKnife offers a life-changing alternative to traditional, invasive surgery.

DaynaImagine you’re 18, headed to college, and you’ve just learned that you have a tumor rapidly growing on two of your lumbar vertebrae – it’s non cancerous, but could be crippling.

That is what Dayna Peters, 18, who lives on the east side of Michigan, learned when she sought care for increasing back pain.  She and her mother Karen had many doctor visits and did much research – but the answers were conflicted. Some doctors told them to remove the growth; others said it could not be removed.

At the height of their confusion, Dayna’s aunt heard a commercial about CyberKnife radiosurgery for the treatment of cancerous and non-cancerous tumors – a treatment they had not yet heard of; one that was an hour and a half away from their home.

Karen, facing a litany of scary options for her daughter – surgery that could cause permanent leg damage; leaving it alone but risking her becoming crippled – called the CyberKnife Radiosurgery Center at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor and immediately scheduled an appointment. There, they met with CyberKnife nurse navigator, Jennifer Bailey and radiation oncologist, Dr. Walter Sahijdak who answered their many questions.

Feeling encouraged, albeit still skeptical, they called a family meeting. Dayna’s three sisters shared their thoughts and concerns, but at the end of the conversation, they knew this was the best option for Dayna.

Over the course of two weeks, Dayna had five treatments lasting approximately one hour each. She had to lie still and was aided by a cushioned “cocoon” that held her in place while she received the precise radiation treatment – no immobilizing devices that would screw into her body like other radiosurgical treatments.

Dayna experienced a little fatigue and some nausea, but referring to two shoulder surgeries she’d had before, “this was a piece of cake compared to that!” she laughed.

Dayna and Karen were equally impressed with the attention they received from the CyberKnife team. The people who cared for Dayna were the same with each of her treatments. They got to know the team well and Karen was especially thankful for the updates she received during Dayna’s treatments.

“It was just so nice to be able to sit back and know that she was very well taken care of,” Karen said.

Dayna traveled back to St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor every three months for follow-up scans; then it was extended to six months, and now she returns only once a year. The good news is the treatment worked – the tumor shrunk slightly, but more importantly, has stopped growing, and her pain is gone.

“I would highly recommend this to anybody who is looking for another option besides surgery – at least make an appointment and come in and speak with the doctors to get more information,” Dayna encouraged.

“We are very grateful. All of the people here were absolutely terrific. You could not have asked for nicer people…”

In fact, they were so grateful that they encouraged another family member to talk to the CyberKnife team at St. Joe’s where he, too, ended up receiving treatment.

“It’s just been a wonderful thing. We are very, very pleased.” Karen concluded.