By Kathy Walsh
ELBERT COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – A 63-year-old man from Elbert County is celebrating that his cancer, breast cancer, is in remission. It is rare for men to get breast cancer. In the U.S., less than one percent of all breast cancer cases occur in men.
Gary McElroy is thankful he caught his early and that his treatments have been some of the most advanced available.
CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh met Gary on the day he and his wife, Liz, rang the bell at The Cancer Center at Parker Adventist Hospital. That marked the successful completion of Gary’s radiation treatment.
“Breast cancer just didn’t seem, didn’t seem possible,” Gary told Kathy.
But in December 2017, Gary learned that former Nugget Roland “Fatty” Taylor had died of breast cancer. That prompted Gary to do a self-exam.
“Felt a lump,” he explained.
Gary has had chemotherapy and surgery. CBS4 was there for his last radiation treatment.
At Parker Adventist, they offer Surface Guided Radiation Therapy (SGRT). It’s a new, sophisticated imaging system that tracks the skin surface in 3-D, making sure the patient is in the correct position. Gary’s tumor was on his left breast.
“Okay, when you’re ready, take a deep breath in and hold it,” Amy Horner, Director of Radiation Oncology, told Gary.
That’s a technique called “Deep Inspiration Breath Hold.” It moves the heart away from the breast and away from damaging radiation exposure.
Michael Tallhamer, Chief of Physics for Centura Health, said with the new SGRT radiation, accuracy is down to about 2/10’s of a millimeter.
“That’s on the order of about the width of a human hair or about half the width of a human hair,” said Tallhamer.
And he explained, if Gary moved out of position, the radiation would pause automatically.
“The less damage it does to other organs, I’m all for it,” said Gary.
Gary left treatment happy to be in remission and also passionate about men doing breast self-exams.
“You think it’s stupid. I thought it was stupid, but it’s saved my life,” he said.
A Parker Adventist Hospital spokeswoman says this about their SGRT:
Parker Adventist Hospital’s Cancer Center has hosted countless academic and private institutions from around the world as they seek to train on, learn, and implement this newer technology in their own facilities. Doctors from prestigious medical institutions such as MD Anderson Cancer Center, Yale, University of Chicago, and Baylor have come to Parker Adventist Hospital to learn more about SGRT from our skilled Cancer Center team who have a wide breadth of experience.