Skin Cancer Awareness Month: An Unlikely Patient

Los Angeles Cancer Institute team member shares her personal journey of overcoming skin cancer.

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“I want people not to be afraid of their health. If you see something that is unusual, take care of it; get it
checked out."

Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) May 15, 2013

When 60-year-old Edna Mayorga first accepted a job with the large cancer care provider, Los Angeles Cancer Institute, a division of 21st Century Oncology of California, she did not know she would eventually become a patient. In November 2012, the 16-year veteran Patient Care Coordinator was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma – skin cancer on her nose.

“It started with just a little bump. I thought it was a pimple, but it just kind of grew. Sometimes it would go away and get flat, other times it was like a little bump, and occasionally it would bleed,” Mayorga said. “That was my sign that something was not right.”

A visit to the dermatologist confirmed her suspicions: basal cell carcinoma, the most common cancer in the United States with 2.8 million people diagnosed each year. While this cancer is rarely fatal, if left untreated, basal cell carcinoma can grow into surrounding facial structures. Her dermatologist first referred her to a surgeon to perform Mohs surgery, essentially cutting the cancerous tumor out of her nose.

“I evaluated the benefits and drawbacks to the Mohs surgery and the cosmetic effects would be a nightmare for me,” says Mayorga. “I would end up with a flap then three scars on my nose. I knew there had to be alternative treatments with better cosmetic outcomes. That's when I talked to my own doctors about radiation therapy.”

After intense research, she made the decision to undergo radiation therapy with Board Certified Radiation Oncologist, Dr. Daniel Schiffner. Her workdays began to include her regular duties as well as radiation therapy at the Los Angeles Cancer Institute, a division of 21st Century Oncology of California.

“I felt confident about starting radiation therapy because I work here and I know it works,” she says. “But the first time when they close that door, I was a little scared. Dr. Schiffner helped me through and after that, it was no big deal. It was easy and fast with no pain, no poking, or cutting. It was actually a really good experience.”

Over time, the basal cell skin cancer was eliminated, leaving Edna cancer free, but more vocal than ever about skin cancer prevention and awareness and a greater appreciation for her patients.

“I see things from the patients’ point of view even more now. I’ve always been at the front desk, encouraging them to have faith in themselves and promote positive thinking and positive feedback,” she says. “Now I can give them more and better feedback because I’ve had the experience. That makes me feel even better knowing that I can give my point of view for the patients.”

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month and Edna Mayorga is committed to raising mindfulness of early detection and prevention of skin cancers like basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma or melanoma.

“I want people not to be afraid of their health. If you see something that is unusual, take care of it; get it checked out. Don’t be scared if you are diagnosed with basal cell because it can be cured. And don’t be scared of radiation, it works, especially on the face. Consider your options, this is a different way to treat skin cancer with minimal scarring and no cutting. I would highly recommend radiation treatment.”

For more information, visit http://www.21COncologySouthBay.com or call (310) 414-9990 to make an appointment.

About 21st Century Oncology:
21st Century Oncology is the foremost provider of cancer care services across multiple modalities, and the largest radiation oncology provider. For more than 30 years, 21st Century Oncology has been committed to providing state-of-the-art, academic level treatment options in a patient-centric setting focused on continuous innovation. Headquartered in Fort Myers, Florida, the physician-led company operates in 16 states and 7 countries, with an extensive network of nearly 300 locations, including approximately 130 radiation therapy facilities. 21st Century Oncology employs or is affiliated with hundreds of physicians in a broad spectrum of cancer-related specialists—working together to deliver the most advanced integrated cancer care.

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