Sutter Cancer Centers
Karen - Back on the Trail
First-time marathoner Karen didn't run away from a diagnosis of breast cancer. Instead, she was determined to get the best treatment and get back to the running trails.
Immediately following retirement in 2012, Karen discovered a new passion. A friend invited Karen to start running with her as a way to enjoy the outdoors, stay in shape and work toward a goal. Shortly after, Karen was training for her first marathon, running 5 miles a day. That first marathon - a 26-mile running event - soon followed.
As a goal-oriented, hard-working woman, Karen always took a proactive approach to her health with yearly mammograms and pap smears. In early 2012, after a mammography and biopsy, she was given the news that she had breast cancer and was referred to Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento cancer surgeon Gregory Graves, M.D. The Sutter care team coordinated her follow-up and Karen was identified as a candidate for Intrabeam surgery - a revolutionary treatment for breast cancer that delivers radiation during breast-conserving surgery, eliminating weeks from a traditional radiation treatment plan. Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento is the only hospital in the greater Sacramento area to offer Intrabeam.
"My care team was amazing," said Karen. "Dr. Graves provided a thorough explanation of my treatment options and worked with me to create my treatment plan. I had not heard about Intrabeam technology, but I felt very comfortable after asking questions and getting my concerns addressed."
Following the surgery, Karen experienced only slight discomfort and no pain.
"I was surprised with how quickly I recovered," explained Karen. "I was back to training for the marathon the week after my surgery. I don't know how to explain it except to say that Dr. Graves and my care team at Sutter helped make it possible."
Three months after the March 2013 Intrabeam surgery, Karen ran in her second marathon and achieved a personal best, shaving 12 minutes from her run time.
"I was ecstatic about finishing the marathon and improving my time," Karen said, "in spite of still having a diagnosis of breast cancer just weeks before!"
Now that Karen's treatment is finished, she has plans to complete at least one marathon per year.
"I am amazed and grateful every day that I had access to the level of care that Sutter provides and that the breast cancer was caught early. My hope is that other women in similar circumstance will benefit from learning about my story!"
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