When you meet Valencia "Val" Pereda you immediately feel a sense of energy. Her secret to a long life is to never slow down. So when Val began having problems with her leg, she visited her long-time primary physician in Chicago. She wasn't familiar with physicians or health care systems in Michigan.
Her doctor performed a routine chest X-ray and discovered that she had a nodule in her lung. Val was surprised and concerned to find out that she had Stage 1 carcinoma. Back in Michigan Val's sister heard a radio ad about a new non-surgical treatment for lung cancer called "CyberKnife." She immediately called Val to see if they should investigate this option. Val scheduled an appointment at St. Joe’s Lung Cancer Multi-disciplinary Clinic to learn more about CyberKnife and other cancer services offered.
Upon arrival Val immediately felt she was being taken care of by a team. In one coordinated visit, she met with a variety of specialists. Dr. Narayan, one of the team physicians, explained how CyberKnife compared to traditional surgery options. Val liked the idea of a non-invasive option, so she agreed to pursue CyberKnife treatment.
The first step was for Val to have tiny gold fiducials implanted that acted as markers. This allowed the CyberKnife machine to pinpoint exactly where her cancer was located. Then Val had four treatments over the course of 10 days. For her, the hardest part of the treatments was being still for an hour at a time. To help her relax the CyberKnife team played Sinatra and classical music. Val recalls gazing at the beautiful cherry blossom tree image on the ceiling and thinking "It’s all very soothing." She did not experience any pain during or after her treatment. The CyberKnife treatment allowed Val to avoid chemo completely.
When Val’s treatment was complete she visited the Cancer Center for follow-up and was happy to receive reports that she was cancer-free. "I’m very, very grateful for the care that I had. I had wonderful treatment. I had a lot of fun with these people."
Val recommends that anyone given a choice between surgery and Cyberknife should consider CyberKinfe very seriously. "I know that you shouldn’t really make light of having cancer and having treatment, but I did consider it a MEDICAL ADVENTURE because everybody was so wonderful to me. We had some laughs. I had great care. All lovely."