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Education, humor help Sterling woman through treatments for breast cancer

Christy Maskil for blog

Five days a week for six weeks, Christy Maskil drove 150 miles roundtrip from rural Sterling, Kansas, to receive 15-minute radiation treatments for breast cancer at the Ascension Via Christi Cancer Center in Wichita.

“I became better at freeway driving,” Christy jokes.

Going into treatments, Christy says she was as anxious. Since she had recently completed five months of a harsh regimen of chemo treatments, she wasn’t sure what to expect at the Ascension Via Christi Cancer Center.  

“It was a whole new step with many different people,” Christy says. “I was very nervous.” 

The thought of having radiation treatment made her uneasy.

“I was fearful of what I’d read about side effects and radiation burns,” she says. “Before my procedures began, I was hoping they would help me through the anticipated side effects — and they did.”

Education is key

Teresa Taton, RN, radiation therapy, at the Ascension Via Christi Cancer Center says patient education is important.

“It’s important for them to know they are treated as individuals. Their cancers and needs are unique,” she says. “We want to get to know our patients and meet their needs ahead of time.”

Christy says the entire staff was calming and welcoming. 

“The staff was congenial, from the receptionists to the radiation therapists,” she says. “When they’d see my wide eyes, they would smile. That helped me feel better. I also really appreciated Dr. Jon Anders’ humor in weekly visits.”

During her initial cancer treatments, before coming to Via Christi, Christy had 12 lymph nodes removed, four of which were cancerous. Now, she suffers from lymphedema — or swelling — in her right arm, which causes her to wear a compression sleeve. 

“Lymphedema is usually worsened with radiation,” she says. “But they were able to help manage it.”

She was grateful to the staff because they knew how to handle patients with her condition.

Overall, Maskil says she had a great care from the doctors and staff at the Ascension Via Christi Cancer Center.

“The only thing that would’ve made it better is if I didn’t have to drive so far," she says.