Surviving and Thriving: Life-saving Cancer Treatment with CyberKnife
Surviving cancer is a difficult journey for all patients. Remaining positive in the face of uncertainty when your health is on the line is challenging, but Lillian Clarke refuses to let cancer bring her down. Her upbeat outlook on life remains strong despite a seven-year journey through breast, kidney and brain cancer.
“God has lifted me up and carried me all the way,” Clarke says. “For me, living life is just as important as beating cancer, so having treatment close to home was extraordinary. I never felt like a ‘cancer patient.’ I went to my appointments then carried on with the rest of my day.”
The Sea Island resident is especially appreciative of having Southeast Georgia Health System so close to home because of her prior experience commuting out of town for treatment. Several years ago, she traveled to Atlanta for surgery. “Driving to Atlanta made an already difficult experience even more difficult,” Clarke says. Since then, the Health System has delivered Clarke’s treatments and follow-up care close to home.
An Easy Experience During a Difficult Time
Throughout her early cancer journey battling breast and kidney cancer at the Health System, Clarke received radiation treatments and immunotherapy at their Infusion Care Center and was seen regularly by Timothy A. Jamieson, M.D., Ph.D., board-certified radiation oncologist and medical director of CyberKnife Services. When her kidney cancer metastasized to her brain, however, Clarke was relieved to discover that she was a perfect candidate for the CyberKnife® Robotic Radiosurgery System.
Unlike traditional cancer treatment, CyberKnife uses nonsurgical technology to deliver high dose radiation to tumors. The technology’s pinpoint accuracy makes it especially beneficial for patients with complex or inoperable tumors because CyberKnife targets only the tumor, leaving the healthy brain tissue surrounding the tumor untouched.
“For Lillian, CyberKnife was especially beneficial,” says Jamieson. “We targeted her brain tumors in several short sessions, producing amazing results without impacting her daily routine or inducing any unpleasant side-effects, such as hair loss, headaches or cognitive issues. Lillian is the same Lillian as always, enjoying life to the fullest.”
In addition to brain tumors, CyberKnife also treats a variety of tumors throughout the body, including prostate, lung, pancreatic, colon, liver, ovarian, uterine, some breast cancers, and more.
“We’re so blessed to have such innovative treatment here in our small community,” Clarke says. “After half a decade fighting cancer, I have to say that CyberKnife is the coolest thing in the world: a very easy experience with no side effects. I’d show up for my appointment and be done within a few minutes! Not to mention that Dr. Jamieson is a God-send. He’s been with me every step of the way. With him as my doctor, I know I’m in good hands.”
Clarke’s praise extends to other Health System staff, too, including the nurses and radiation therapists.
“All of the doctors and nurses are wonderful,” says Clarke. “I couldn’t have had better care.”
Clarke is a living miracle: not only has she survived breast, kidney and brain cancer, she’s done so with grace, positivity and with her spirit intact. Throughout her treatment, she remained actively involved with family, friends, and community volunteerism. Eventually, she hopes to resume her seven-mile walking routine as well.
“I had a lot of years pounding the pavement, and although I haven’t quite retained the stamina of my youth, treatment for brain cancer hasn’t prevented me from living life,” Clarke says. “I still go grocery shopping and carry out my daily routine. Most importantly, I still enjoy my days at the beach, which I love. I’m just blessed to be here.”