Marilyn Coleman

It can be tough to rally a positive attitude when you’ve lived with cancer for more than a decade.

But 62-year-old Marilyn Coleman is now cancer-free and thinks her victory over the disease is largely due to the CyberKnife® treatments she had at Menorah Medical Center.

“My initial breast cancer was discovered in 1998,” says Marilyn, a resident of Abilene, Kansas, and the mother of three grown children. “It was my birthday when I received the diagnosis.”

Marilyn had chemotherapy and then underwent a lumpectomy in January 1999. She found another lump in 2003 and had a double mastectomy, in addition to more chemotherapy treatment. In 2004, following a regular scan that revealed spots on her lungs, Marilyn made a trip to MD Anderson in Houston, where she was told she had metastatic breast cancer. The disease had indeed moved to her lungs, depositing five small tumors. That fall she was given 12 to 18 months to live, a verdict Marilyn, who always adopts a glass-is-half-full outlook in life, wasn’t willing to accept.

Six years later, Marilyn reflects on that rollercoaster journey. “Once you’re diagnosed with cancer you start paying attention to all sorts of things you never did before,” she explains. “Cancer becomes such a big part of your life that you notice television and radio commercials, magazine ads and listen to friend’s recommendations about the topic.”

Marilyn’s husband, Gary, a retired family physician, saw a TV ad in the fall of 2005 for a procedure called CyberKnife performed at Midwest Cancer Care at Menorah Medical Center in Overland Park. Gary didn’t need Marilyn’s encouragement to call and inquire about the leading technology; he was on the phone within minutes, getting details and scheduling an appointment for his wife.

CyberKnife is a non-invasive alternative to surgery for the treatment of cancer anywhere in the body. It delivers beams of high-dose radiation to tumors with extreme accuracy and as the Coleman’s found out, is a beacon of hope for cancer patients.

Marilyn and Gary met Bradley Koffman, MD, radiation oncologist, at Midwest Cancer Care at Menorah Medical Center about CyberKnife and how it could help her situation.

“Simply, it was love at first sight with Dr. Koffman,” says Marilyn. “His professionalism, patient-centric approach and demeanor put us at immediate ease.”

Dr. Koffman recommended three CyberKnife treatments for Marilyn. “He offered encouragement along the way and always wanted my input and concerns,” says Marilyn. “He wasn’t hesitant in the least to build a patient-doctor relationship.”

In a word, Marilyn describes her experience with Dr. Koffman and Midwest Cancer Care at Menorah Medical Center as exemplary. “Both Gary and I felt an immediate connection with the whole team there,” she says. “They treat you like you’re a member of their family.”