Advanced cancer radiation therapy close to home.
FAYETTEVILLE, Ga. (December 16, 2010)—No one asks for cancer. But when faced with the disease, patients do ask for better treatment options. Piedmont Fayette Hospital Cancer Center, now offers the first and only radiation oncology services in Fayette County. The Center’s new linear accelerator technology features the world’s fastest and most accurate external beam treatments used for the treatment of many types of cancer.
“In the few short months since its introduction as the first and only radiation oncology service in Fayette County, we have delivered close to 3,000 treatments," said Jonathan Bender, M.D., Piedmont Fayette Hospital Cancer Committee Chairman. "Fortunately now, our patients will have access to this important radiation therapy close to home."
Jonesboro resident Leslie Johnson knows what it’s like to travel for treatment. Johnson, who turned 50 in January, is often told by friends that she doesn’t look her age. With her good health and busy schedule as a sergeant in the U.S. Army, after her birthday, she decided to skip her annual mammogram. Instead, she focused on preparing for a volunteer tour of duty in Afghanistan. Ironically, she would soon be preparing for the biggest battle of her life.
Long-time friend and co-worker Semba Brittian, of Fairburn, Ga., approached Johnson in early February and struck up a conversation about the importance of annual mammograms for women over 40. The 42-year-old Brittian—a four-year breast cancer survivor herself—urged Johnson to make her appointment immediately.
Johnson heeded the advice of her trusted friend and fellow soldier. It was a decision that may very well have saved her life. Johnson’s mammogram revealed an irregularity, and in April 2010, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and, by May, had begun radiation treatments with radiation oncologist Adam W. Nowlan, M.D., at the Piedmont Hospital Cancer Center in Atlanta.
“I was scared,” said the 20-year military veteran. “I maintain a very active lifestyle and the feeling of losing control over this aspect of my life was new for me.”
Treatments left Johnson exhausted, and the long ride home to Jonesboro was often complicated by Atlanta traffic. Relief finally arrived when Piedmont Fayette Hospital opened its linear accelerator facility. Johnson became the first patient to receive radiation treatment in the new facility on July 6, 2010.
The Piedmont Fayette Hospital Cancer Center’s linear accelerator is a highly sophisticated tool used for the treatment of some types of cancer. Under the close guidance of radiation oncologists and nuclear physicists, it delivers a uniform dose of high-energy X-ray to the region of the patient's tumor. With the help of a computer, these X-rays can pinpoint and destroy cancer cells while sparing surrounding normal tissue. This therapy is given on consecutive days over a four- to six-week period.
“The new facility is great,” said Johnson. “Some of us on the south side have cancer too and being close to home after treatment sure beats sitting in traffic. This option gave me a comforting sense of control over my situation.”
Aside from her illness, Johnson’s breast cancer journey has had a significant effect on her life. She found her command structure at work to be very supportive in addition to her friends and family in civilian life. For someone who likes to be in control of her health, Johnson says the entire experience has been humbling.
“Many women are uncomfortable talking about breast health,” said Johnson. “But when a woman finds out you have breast cancer—no matter what color she is or what part of the world she is from—she is automatically your sister.”
In what is perhaps the most telling example of her strength and determination, Johnson says that once she receives a clean bill of health, she plans to volunteer again for deployment to Afghanistan.
Piedmont Fayette Hospital's oncology services range from diagnosis, medical and surgical oncology, rehabilitative therapy services as well as nutritional, spiritual and support groups. To schedule a mammogram please contact the Women’s Imaging Center at Piedmont Fayette Hospital at
770-719-7007. For more information about Piedmont Fayette Hospital and services, visit piedmontfayette.org.