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Wendy Perry

"I wouldn't be here if it weren't for Dr. McBroom."

On January 9, 2012, Wendy Perry felt sick to her stomach and had respiratory issues. She went to her primary care physician, who diagnosed her with an upper respiratory infection and a bacterial infection. She returned to work the next day, but was too sick to work two days after that.

By Saturday, she was “almost lifeless,” and her sister called 911 for help. EMS took Perry to Piedmont Henry Hospital for evaluation. “That’s where they diagnosed me with stage III ovarian cancer,” she says. The physician told her she had a gall stone, but “that was the least of her worries.” They had found a 12-centimeter tumor on her left ovary. “She said, ‘That means you have ovarian cancer – and it’s not good.’"

Ovarian cancer treatment

Perry’s sister sees a Piedmont physician, so she searched for a doctor in the Piedmont network who could treat Perry.  She found John McBroom, M.D., a gynecologic oncologist at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital, one of only a few gynecologic oncologists in Georgia. Just days later, Perry arrived for her initial appointment with Dr. McBroom. He admitted her to the hospital that day.

“I was so sick, I don’t remember exactly, but in my stomach area, I was hurting really, really badly,” Perry explains. “They pulled 25 pounds of fluid off me." So much fluid from the cancer had built in Perry’s abdomen that she couldn’t lie down, so she had to sleep in a recliner.

Dr. McBroom told Perry she was malnourished from the cancer, so he focused on rebuilding her strength before performing surgery. When Perry was strong enough, Dr. McBroom performed a complete hysterectomy, followed by HIPEC (heated intraperitoneal chemoperfusion, a heated chemotherapy treatment performed during surgery) for 90 minutes.

HIPEC kills microscopic cancer cells that cannot be removed during surgery. “It killed a lot of the cancer,” says Perry. “Dr. McBroom said the HIPEC was really productive in my surgery. That was my first chemo session.”

How HIPEC works

“Heating the chemo makes it more effective because cancer cells are more susceptible to heat,” says Dr. McBroom. “By placing the chemo intra-abdominally, it gives the cancer longer exposure to the treatment.” HIPEC is in a unique position to have a better effect on cancer that has spread along the lining of the peritoneum, or abdominal cavity. Women with advanced stage ovarian cancer can be good candidates for HIPEC “because of the high relapse rate of ovarian cancer and encouraging findings regarding HIPEC and ovarian cancer. Patients seem to have longer periods without relapse,” says Dr. McBroom.

A month after surgery and HIPEC, Perry began a second round of chemotherapy. She says she doesn’t know if she would be where she is today if it weren’t for Dr. McBroom’s expertise. “My care at Piedmont was excellent,” she says. “I have had wonderful nurses and a wonderful doctor. I couldn’t ask for anything better with Piedmont. I’m spoiled now – I couldn’t go anywhere else.” For more information on ovarian cancer and treatment options, visit Piedmont Cancer Center.

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