Like many, Wendy Bier was devastated when she was diagnosed with cancer. But, thanks to the strength and assurance she gained from an expert health care team right in her backyard, she has enjoyed two and a half years as a cancer survivor.
After suffering from pressure in her lower back that eventually caused numbness in her legs, the Cameron resident was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma on Jan. 29, 2002. Dr. Daniel Burns, an oncologist at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, discovered a 60 mm tumor (a normal-sized lymph node is 6-10 mm) wrapped around an aorta in her lower abdomen.
"We utilized a multi-disciplinary approach for her care," explains Dr. Burns. "She was seeing a surgeon, Dr. Martin, he called me in for a consult to see if we could perform a biopsy to get a section of tissue instead of doing open surgery. Her CT scans were reviewed by me and a radiologist that same day, and we all agreed that a biopsy could be done."
"By the second week in February they had already done the biopsy, determined the type of cancer and put a 'soup' together," said Bier, referring to the type of treatment she would receive.
Because Biers tumor was so spread out, doctors opted to do six treatments of chemotherapy and steroids. She received the first treatment in Eau Claire, but since cancer specialists visit the Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire in Barron weekly, Dr. Burns suggested she receive the rest of the chemotherapy closer to home in Barron. Although Barron Medical Center (now Mayo Clinic Health System - Northland in Barron) is part of Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire and Mayo Clinic Health System, Bier had never had medical care at the facility and was apprehensive. However, she decided to opt for convenience.
"It was the best thing I could've done," Bier now says. "The nurses knew exactly what to do, no matter what the situation. They knew about my medications...The staff was excellent and knew just what to do and how to make me feel comfortable."
The road to recovery
After only the second treatment, the size of Biers tumor was reduced by half. By July of 2002, she was in remission. Bier credits her cancer survivorship to the prompt medical care she received during her diagnosis and treatment, as well as maintaining a positive attitude throughout the ordeal.
"Being able to come here (Barron) and have the assurance that the people who were treating me knew what they were doing, and knowing that how I was feeling is normal, helped me keep that positive attitude," said Bier, who served as the honorary chairperson of the 2004 Barron County Relay for Life event to raise money for cancer research.
Cancer-free for two and a half years, Bier will continue to see Dr. Burns in Barron every six months until she reaches the five-year mark. The exam requires a CT scan, which she can have done at Barron.
Specialties close to home
Bier is among many patients who receive high-quality specialty care close to home. Thanks to an affiliation with Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire and ownership by Mayo Foundation, a full range of specialty services is available at clinics in Barron, Cameron, Chetek, Prairie Farm and Rice Lake as well as the hospital. In addition to oncology, patients have benefited from physicians expertise in several areas:
Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire hires Board Certified or Board Eligible physicians. Physicians are supported by an annual allowance and time for continuing medical education, with easy access to the many educational programs and resources at Mayo Clinic.
"Barron is really an extension of the oncology services at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire," said Dr. Burns. "The oncologists work together with the medical staff, nurses and patients at Barron to ensure patients receive the same standards of quality care at Barron that they would at Eau Claire or anywhere else in the Mayo Clinic Health System."
To make an appointment, call 537-6747.