The Bismarck Cancer Center (BCC) allows patients in our area to receive state-of-the-art cancer treatment and caring support while staying close to home and loved ones. We have a highly-skilled and compassionate team of radiation therapists, medical physicists, nurses and dosimetrists working with your radiation oncologist to care for you during your treatment.
Linn Zander
Cathy's Story

As a business owner of the local funeral home in Crosby, ND for many years, Cathy Martin and her husband Ken, were ready for some relaxation on the shores of Lake Sakakawea after selling their business.  Cathy’s retirement dreams included lake time, spending time with their four kids,16 grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and enjoying her hobbies of crafts and crocheting.  Cathy and Ken eventually purchased a place at Brendle Bay in 2012 near Parshall, ND, and started managing the resort there, “We just love it here!” says Cathy.

   Cathy had her annual mammogram last spring, which showed something suspicious.  They figured it might just be dense tissue, but decided to do a needle biopsy of the breast. When the results came back, Cathy’s relaxing retirement came to a halt.  “I heard the word ‘cancer’ and I thought the worst”, she said.  Her mom, sister, niece and aunt had all had breast cancer, so it wasn’t too much of a surprise when she found out she held the same fate.  “I asked my primary care doctor, ‘Where do we go from here?’”  She told Cathy she wanted to send her to the Bismarck Cancer Center to see Dr. Russo and also see Dr. Chalmers for the surgery.  Luckily, when Cathy had a breast MRI done, it showed that her lymph nodes were negative, which gave her a much shorter treatment option.  She met with Dr. Russo who explained brachytherapy, a type of radiation that required 5 days of radiation therapy, twice a day. A balloon catheter is inserted into the breast, where the radiation is placed directly in the cavity where the cancer is.  “Dr. Russo explained that Dr. Chalmers would take the 3 lymph nodes out that were the closest to the cancer and have them tested.  If they did come back negative as they thought, we could go ahead with this 5 day treatment instead of doing 6 weeks of radiation,” said Cathy, “Everything went as planned and on June 13th I got a call from the Bismarck Cancer Center saying it was a go for the balloon radiation.”  

   Cathy went to her first appointment at the Bismarck Cancer Center with her daughter, who’s a registered nurse by trade, “My daughter was impressed with how Dr. Russo explained everything and made sure I understood what was going on. She was happy that I was in good hands.” Cathy’s experience at the Bismarck Cancer Center was a positive one and the brachytherapy treatments went well.  The medical team was there every step of the way, “The staff and Dr. Russo put my mind at ease, answered questions, and all were so up lifting and so supportive!  Each and everyone one of the employees showed nothing but love, kindness, and they always made sure I understood what was going on and they took the extra time just to visit,” Cathy said.  Never one to drown in her sorrows, Cathy kept active throughout her cancer treatment journey and credits a positive attitude for her recovery, “Instead of sitting and feeling sorry for myself, I continued to do my job managing the resort where we live. Too me that was important to keep busy and not sit in a corner saying ‘why me’?”

   After 5 days of treatment, Cathy was able to ring the bell in the hallway.  “The last day of my treatment I danced in the hallways and rang that beautiful golden bell,” she said, “I feel very fortunate that my cancer was caught in the early stages and I had the best care with the Bismarck Cancer Center!”  “The most important things throughout my treatment was to stay strong, have a positive attitude, and embrace the love and support from my husband, family and friends.  I had cancer, but cancer didn't have me!

   And, even though her cancer journey wasn’t easy, it has been a life changing experience, “Having been diagnosed with cancer, I have a different outlook on life.  It’s always in the back of my mind, but I will not let it rule me.  I live each day to the fullest and always enjoy life.  Thank you Bismarck Cancer Center!  You are truly God’s Gift!”

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