A Q&A with Dr. Patrick Tassin, OB-GYN, Alexandria Women’s Center
Why is a specialized breast and GYN facility in close proximity important?
The thing about central Louisiana is that we have a fair amount of general practitioners, surgeons and OB-GYNs, but not specialists. So it’s huge to be able to offer our patients access to specialists a few hours away who can help provide a higher level of care.
What is the key advantage of a place like the Breast & GYN Pavilion?
The streamlined therapies offered at the Breast & GYN Cancer Pavilion are convenient for Alexandria patients. They can receive treatment in a shorter amount of time, which means less time away from their work and families.
What are other doctors near you saying about the Breast & GYN Pavilion?
I’ve heard nothing but great feedback from fellow Alexandria doctors about the Breast & GYN Cancer Pavilion – they’re quick to get patients in and navigate them through the process. Having patient navigators as advocates is so important – this means patients can just focus on getting better, which is a huge relief for anyone who’s battling a complicated diagnosis. Then, they can return home to the local OB-GYN.
What are patients’ experiences with the Breast & GYN Pavilion?
Patients in central Louisiana have been very open to going to the Pavilion in Baton Rouge for treatment, because they know the care they’ll receive there is just as good, if not better, than they’d get at bigger institutions at MD Anderson. And the personalized care at the Pavilion gives us as referring physicians a great peace of mind about sending our patients there. Our patients receive excellent care with half the drive, which is a lot more convenient. There’s also more personal attention at the Pavilion than they’d get at a larger facility like the ones in Texas.
STRAIGHT TO THE POINT
- Many cities have general practitioners but few specialists, so physicians like Alexandria’s Dr. Patrick Tassin are glad for facilities like the Breast & GYN Cancer Pavilion where they can refer patients with more complicated cases to be treated.
- The Breast & GYN Cancer Pavilion can offer streamlined therapies that allow patients to receive treatment in a shorter amount of time, resulting in less time away from their work and families.
- The Pavilion is quick to get patients in and navigate them through the process so patients can solely focus on getting better.
Alexandria native Dr. Patrick Tassin received his undergraduate degree at LSU. After graduating from Ross University Medical School, he completed his residency with LSU Health Sciences Center at Woman’s Hospital in Baton Rouge. Along with routine obstetric and gynecology evaluations, Dr. Tassin has particular interest in minimally invasive robotic surgery and infertility evaluations.
“I’m very familiar with traveling Highway 190 now, but the short drive to Baton Rouge has been worth it,” says breast cancer survivor and Alexandria, Louisiana resident Lori Stanley. “And it was much closer than Houston or some other far away locations.”
Lori was referred for treatment at the Breast & GYN Cancer Pavilion, a Woman’s Hospital and Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center partnership, after her local gynecologist found a suspicious mass that had formed in one of her breasts.
“My gynecologist said that the Pavilion was the best place to go for diagnosis and treatment. She explained that she knew the technology and expertise was extraordinary and she was right, especially because I was diagnosed with invasive lobular carcinoma, a type of cancer that’s difficult to detect,” said Lori. “From the moment I was referred there, things moved quickly and I felt like I was exactly where I needed to be. It all happened so efficiently and effectively that looking back, I thank God that I didn’t have to worry about navigating a system. Everything was done for me, so I could focus on getting better.”
After surgeries to remove the mass and reconstruct her breast, a medical oncologist determined that Lori did not need chemotherapy nor radiation. Instead, she began a less intensive treatment with fewer side effects, an endocrine therapy regimen. Lori is now in remission.
The one-year anniversary of the Breast & GYN Cancer Pavilion is May 1, and over the last year, many women from throughout the region have chosen to seek cancer care at the facility due to its focus on women and cancer, and the renowned, collaborative expertise available. There is no other known cancer center in the country focused specifically on these diseases. For more information, please visit breastandgyncancer.org or call the CancerAnswer call line at (225) 215-7600.
1st Year Anniversary Highlights at a Glance:
The sound of silver bells ring in the holidays for some, but to Joyce Dean, there was only one bell she wanted to hear chime this winter.
In May 2018, Dean was diagnosed with breast cancer following a mammogram and the test results indicated an abnormality. Her doctors found the mass was in stage zero and caught just in time. It was recommended that she have the mass removed and begin radiation as soon as possible to ensure the cancer would not spread. She underwent surgeries and began radiation at Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center in Covington soon after.
“I lost my husband to stomach cancer in 2003 and my daughter to lung cancer three years ago,” said Dean. “They both passed three months after their diagnoses. I know what that word means, and I’ve seen what it does to good people. I feel so blessed to have met so many other patients, doctors and nurses, and I know it is because of them that I can say I beat this.”
The battle against cancer is not just fought by the patient; it impacts loved ones as well. Dean’s daughter, Dee Stein, said that though most days were manageable for her mom, there were some days that were harder than others. In addition, she stated that it was not until her mother rang the bell and read the letter in the mail saying she was 100 percent cancer free that she, “bloomed like a flower.”
“Watching my mother fight and find the light inside her is the greatest gift a daughter could ask for,” said Stein.
The Cancer Center installed its first bell in 2015 and serves as a mark of accomplishment for those finishing active treatment. The bell also functions as a sign of hope for those undergoing treatment, eager to ring it when their treatment is complete.
Mary Bird Perkins is a key provider within St. Tammany Cancer Center, which offers comprehensive, patient-focused cancer services.
“Ringing this bell
Three times well
Its toll to clearly say,
My treatment’s done
This course is run
And I am on my way!”
“Ringing Out,” by Admiral Irve Le Moyne
Dr. Kate Castle Provides Unique Procedure at Breast & GYN Cancer Pavilion
Few people appreciate modern medicine as often as Dr. Kate Castle, a radiation oncologist with Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center. She sees an average of 25 patients at the Breast & GYN Pavilion each month, some with more advanced or challenging breast or gynecologic cancers.
So it may have come as a surprise when Dr. Castle recommended one of the oldest forms of cancer therapy for a patient with stage 1 gynecologic cancer.
“Brachytherapy, or putting radioactive sources directly into the tissue, has been used to treat cancer for ages. Conceptually, it goes back to the days of Marie Curie, and we still perform brachytherapy today because it works,” said Dr. Castle.
“Now with more advanced treatment delivery systems, we can combine brachytherapy with 3D imaging like MRIs, which lets us target the tumor more precisely, further increasing brachytherapy’s effectiveness while reducing side effects.”
Today, the MD Anderson-trained radiation oncologist is one of the only physicians in the area who performs interstitial brachytherapy, an intricate surgery that places radiation treatment applicators as close to the tumor as possible in preparation for the delivery of high-dose rate radiation. This spares more surrounding tissue and organs from radiation, essentially delivering radiation from the inside out and keeping it from passing through normal healthy tissue to reach the cancer.
The unique surgery depends on the size of the tumor as well as its location. And because of the time and players involved in not only the procedure’s planning process, but also its many different parts, few radiation oncologists continue to perform this procedure.
“This requires intense teamwork,” said Dr. Castle.
Along with a team of physicists, the procedure requires Dr. Castle to carefully collaborate with experts in radiology, anesthesia, surgery, and nursing – all of whom see patients at the bedside to deliver maximum care and comfort while ensuring utmost privacy.
“Woman’s Hospital has expertise in gynecologic issues that you can’t find anywhere else in this area, and the Cancer Center has the most highly trained physicists and oncologists,” said Dr. Castle. “Women with breast and gynecologic cancer deserve to be treated by a team that combines Woman’s strengths with the Cancer Center’s expertise and technology.”
Kate Castle, M.D., is a radiation oncologist with Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center. She is located at the Breast & GYN Cancer Pavilion on the campus of Woman’s Hospital, which reflects the unique partnership between Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake and Woman’s Hospital.
We’re taking the fight forward against cancer so more patients from across our community can receive the most comprehensive and advanced care possible. Here are 10 reasons why Ladies Night Out is the biggest celebration in town.
100% Fundraising Efficiency
Every dollar raised benefits patients and their families, allowing us to serve them in the most impactful way. Donor funding has provided support for early detection, education, survivorship, research and patient assistance. Since 2006, Ladies Night Out has raised over $796,000.00.
Party in style with VIP access, and be treated like the superstar that you are. VIPs receive early event access, a table for eight guests in a premiere location near the stage, a complimentary bottle of wine and champagne for the table, a personal bartender for your group so you don’t have to lift a finger and swag bags full of exclusive goodies to take home. Also, bypass the registration line – just look for the special VIP entrance for a speedy check-in so you can start the night off.
Fund the Fight Forward
With Fund the Fight Forward, you can make a small donation to help ease the financial burden on a cancer patient’s life so they can focus on what’s really important – their health. Whether it’s a $25 donation for a gas card so they can make it to their treatments or a $200 donation for essential nutritional supplements to help maintain energy and strength to take on the fight, your donation will give hope to someone in need. Grab your pals and have some fun in our photo booth decked out with props as a thank you for your support. Click here to learn more.
From jewelry and art to even an exclusive duck hunting trip, the auction items are sure to please everyone. Don’t bother getting up from the table, with mobile bidding, you don’t have to stalk the bid sheet. Enjoy your evening with text reminders if you are outbid or a congratulatory text announcing your winnings.
In its 12th year, Ladies Night Out will be an evening to remember. We’re thrilled to announce that KLFY News 10 host, Sylvia Masters and White Car Marketing owner, Cody Blanchard, are back to host Ladies Night Out in style. Guests can mingle with one another, enjoy specialty cocktails, dine on delicious, local cuisine and boogie down to great music.
Forks and Corks
For $25 a pull, take a chance on winning a delicious bottle of wine or a restaurant gift card valued at $25 or more.
Committee and Sponsors
Our amazing group of committee members and sponsors not only have big hearts, but know how to have a good time! With them by our sides, they are sure to make this night unforgettable.
Cancer Survivor Fashion Show
Cheer on 17 fearless cancer survivors and fighters as they strut their stuff on the catwalk showing off the latest trends from Dillard’s. You can read their full stories here.
Cuisine & Cocktails
It would not be an event in South Louisiana without divine cuisine and cocktails. Mouthwatering bites include a mixture of savory and sweet and you can top it all off with one of the event’s signature cocktails.
At Ladies Night Out, we celebrate all of the cancer survivors and fighters and their loved ones. Together, we can celebrate life and take the fight forward to beat cancer.
The words above are just a few of the ways that Hillary Lanaux’s family describe her meaningful life.
Leaving a Legacy
This is why New Orleans residents Mr. and Mrs. Lanaux made a generous, transformational donation – one of the largest ever received across the state – to Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center’s Prevention on the Go Program, which focuses on cancer prevention, education and early detection in Covington, Houma and surrounding parishes.
“This gift from my parents is really an offering to the community in honor of Dr. Saux and everyone who cared for Hillary, and for those now caring for my father,” said Hilda Lanaux.
“Hillary was a leader and was extremely empathetic to the plights of others. I know she would be so proud of how her grandparents’ gift will touch so many people.”
Why Early Detection is Important
Every year, 25,000 people in Louisiana and more than 3,500 people in the Covington and Houma areas alone are diagnosed with cancer each year. Chances of survival are much better when cancer is detected in its earliest stages, so raising awareness and increasing detection has become a life or death matter in Louisiana – ranked number four in the nation for highest cancer mortality rate. In fact, across the country, 80 percent of prostate cancer patients benefit from early detection while 99 percent of breast cancers are found early enough to treat and increase survivorship rates.
Services Close to Home in the Northshore and Bayou Regions
The Lanauxs’ gift is truly transformational in that it will fund prevention, education and early detection programs through the Northshore and Bayou regions where Mary Bird Perkins partners with St. Tammany Parish Hospital and Terrebonne General Medical Center. In these areas, the Cancer Center’s mobile medical unit travels throughout the Covington, Houma and beyond screening people for breast, colorectal, skin, oral and prostate cancers.
Currently, the Cancer Center’s mobile units provide nearly 50 screenings throughout the state each day. The Lanauxs’ gift will provide funding to Prevention on the Go for four years. Take a look at how this donation will impact the community.
Hillary Continues to Help Others
“Hillary was a people person and was president of her class in both her junior and senior years in high school. She was a mover and a shaker,” said Ethel Lanaux, Hillary’s grandmother. “While we don’t know how she would have impacted peoples’ lives in the future, she most certainly made the most of the short time she was with us. Our hope is that this gift in her name will help do the good that we know she would have done if she were still with us today.”
Through this gift, Hilary’s brave leadership and empathetic, helpful spirit will certainly live on.
For more information on how you can make a gift in memory or honor of someone special, visit our website.
Over the last 20 years, Devery Pierce has always been one to do her part. Throughout her adulthood, she’s donated platelets, plasma and red blood cells to help patients in need of these vital components. So, when she was asked to enroll in a clinical trial to help determine the most effective breast imaging technology to detect cancer, she immediately wanted to participate.
When Devery, who has never had cancer, recently went for her annual mammogram at the Breast & GYN Cancer Pavilion at Woman’s, she was informed about the Tomosynthesis Mammographic Imaging Screening Trial (TMIST). It’s a large, randomized trial comparing two FDA-approved types of digital mammography. She immediately wanted to be a part of a study that could help women in the future, while simply undergoing her annual mammogram, something that has been a part of her routine for many years.
“I’ve always been diligent about my screenings because cancer runs in my family,” said Devery, a native of Central. “I’ve had several family members impacted by the disease and this was a very easy way to give back to the future of cancer care. I had a breast cancer scare after the birth of my first daughter and I was fortunate, but it could have easily gone another way.”
How does TMIST Work?
The trial compares: standard digital (2D) versus Tomosynthesis (3D) mammography to determine which method results in a long-term reduction of breast cancer mortality. The trial is being conducted at leading breast cancer screening sites across the United States and Canada and will include 165,000 participants.
“TMIST was something else I could do that wouldn’t require any extra time nor money, but would potentially help countless numbers of people,” said Devery.
How to enroll in TMIST
For more information on TMIST or other national breast or gynecological clinical trials made available by Woman’s Hospital and Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center’s partnership, please visit www.breastandgyncancer.org or call (225) 215-1353.
TMIST was co-developed by the ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group (www.ecog-acrin.org/tmist) and the National Cancer Institute (www.cancer.gov/tmist), part of the National Institutes of Health. ECOG-ACRIN is leading the trial.
Since being diagnosed with breast cancer, Petronilla Neal has found comfort in attending survivorship classes and meeting with people who can relate to her diagnosis.
“There’s a special bond every survivor shares, from the moment someone is diagnosed with cancer it doesn’t matter if you’re starting treatment or in recovery, there’s an unspoken recognition that you are connected to one another,” said Petronilla.
The Cancer Center offers survivorship programs based on mind-body medicine to help patients and caregivers cope with the emotional and physical strains that accompany a cancer diagnosis. The integrative programs combine research-based therapy with traditional cancer care, aimed to alleviate the side effects of cancer and improve overall well-being.
Petronilla attended one of the survivorship programs, the mind-body skills group, which gives participants an opportunity to share and connect with other cancer survivors while also learning and practicing new coping skills. The atmosphere encouraged participants like Petronilla, to explore how another person’s story affects them and use that insight in their healing process.
“It’s an amazing feeling to be able to confide in a group of survivors who know what you’ve been through. Petronilla especially enjoyed a six-week survivorship clinic, where she says, “we all grew closer and continue to stay in touch.”
As we celebrate National Cancer Survivor Month, Petronilla encourages other survivors to attend one of the various classes the Cancer Center has to offer and meet new people. “During one of classes the group opened up and started sharing advice with one another. We were helping fellow survivors and at the same time healing ourselves; it was a truly memorable moment.”
All Cancer Center survivorship events are free and open to cancer survivors throughout Ascension Parish, thanks to the generosity of Gonzales Area Foundation. For more information on the survivorship program, visit our website.
A mother’s love is unconditional and she always puts others’ needs ahead of her own, especially when it comes to health. As Mother’s Day approaches, the Cancer Center encourages all women to think about how it’s important to stay healthy so you can continue caring for your loved ones. For instance, are you aware of the leading cancers that affect women? Learn more about how you can lessen the risk of cancer and the signs and symptoms you should know.
Breast Cancer is the second leading cause of cancer in American women, exceeded only by lung cancer. The risk of breast cancer increases with age but young women generally face more aggressive cancers and lower survival rates. Take a look at this downloadable resource for more information or visit our breast cancer page.
Gynecological Cancer includes cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, vaginal cancer and vulvar cancer. The symptoms vary for each cancer but can be difficult to recognize because they may be related to other conditions. 89,000 women will be diagnosed with gynecological cancer in the U.S. reduce your risk through early detection. Take a look at this downloadable resource for more information.
Colorectal Cancer is the third most common cause of cancer deaths in men and women and can often go undetected until it has significantly advanced. Early detection is key, more than 90 percent of colorectal cancers can be cured when caught in its earliest stages. Take a look at this downloadable resource for more information or visit our colorectal cancer page.
Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center and Woman’s Hospital have opened the Breast & GYN Cancer Pavilion that is dedicated to serving the needs of women with the highest level of compassion and care available in our region. This Mother’s Day take a moment to discuss your family history and share this information with the women in your life. Also, because early detection saves lives, cancer screenings are an important part of staying healthy. Learn more about our upcoming screenings and reduce your risk by visiting our screening calendar.
Last summer, Shanna Ledet was contemplating how she would tell her family she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Saturday she will be walking side by side with them at Relay for Life of Terrebonne Parish as they celebrate her survivorship and honor the lives of others who fought the same battle.
Shanna’s story began when during a routine checkup, her mammogram showed an abnormal finding. As a result, an ultra sound and biopsy were performed and she tested positive for cancer. She was then scheduled for a lumpectomy.
“It felt like everything snowballed after my first test, the results would come back worse and worse until finally they told me I had breast cancer,” said Shanna. “Cancer’s not a foreign thought to me, I’ve had family members battle this disease and many of them didn’t survive: I told myself that if I were to ever be diagnosed with cancer I would be treated at the place where I would have the best fighting chance.”
“I’m glad when it finally came to decide where to receive my care, I chose Mary Bird Perkins TGMC Cancer Center. From the moment I walked through the doors, they treated me like part of their family; I didn’t feel like just another patient. I received the most advanced care right at home, nothing can beat that.”
Shanna will be this years’ honorary speaker at Relay for Life of Terrebonne Parish. And although she’s been participating in the event for many years, this time it will mean something completely different for her.
Mary Bird Perkins TGMC Cancer Center is a sponsor of this year’s Relay For Life Saturday, April 28 at the Terrebonne Civic Center. Learn more about this event by visiting our website.