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.
Yvonne “YJean” Whitley has been coaching football at Southern University for decades.
She may wear a sassy outfit instead of a coach’s uniform, but the retired teacher definitely isn’t your ordinary, run-of-the-mill football fan. A longtime Jaguar supporter, YJean can rattle off schedules and players’ stats on any given day. She has also been known to talk to the team, whether offering pointers from her seat in the stadium or to her radio while receiving chemotherapy.
Recently, the 76-year-old attended her first home game at A. W. Mumford Stadium in a year.
“Oh, cancer didn’t stop me from keeping up with the team,” said a matter-of-fact YJean. “Sometimes I even watched the game in the sorority house across from the stadium. I just couldn’t sit in the stands.”
Diagnosed with gynecologic cancer in the spring of 2017, YJean’s treatment plan began with surgery to remove most of the tumor, and subsequent doses of chemotherapy to treat the remainder of the cancer. Thanks to the partnership between Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center and Woman’s Hospital, YJean has been able to receive comprehensive treatment all in one location – at the new Breast & GYN Cancer Pavilion.
YJean credits the care she’s gotten from all around the country, especially from her husband, children, sorority sisters and friends, for helping her keep an upbeat nature and positive outlook, saying she’s had “150 percent support.” Her perspective about the disease mirrors how she views other life events: when one thing goes wrong, it doesn’t mean everything has to change.
“The day I found out I had cancer, I asked God, ‘Why did this happen to me?’ But then I told myself to cut that out,” laughed YJean, coaching herself as she would her favorite football team. “I already know that I have to use what I’ve been given and claim my own victory.”
“Work keeps me active,” said the Baton Rouge High Time Out Room (TOR) moderator and activities coordinator, who was out of the office less than a semester during her cancer treatment at the Breast & GYN Cancer Pavilion. “It’s good for me to focus on something else and let God take control of my health.”
And just as she advises the Jaguar football team about any worthy opponent, YJean goes into each cancer treatment with a positive mindset: “I know to never give up, and to keep playing till the end.”
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.
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.
By Todd Stevens, President and Chief Executive Officer, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center
Teamwork. It’s a concept everyone at Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center embraces every day. From multidisciplinary teams focused on specific cancers to hundreds of doctors, nurses, patient navigators, dieticians and many others working together and combining talents and energy to benefit patients—teamwork is engrained in all we do.
To most effectively fight cancer, it takes many people to go above and beyond to surround patients with everything they need. Today, teamwork is being expanded in a new way, especially for breast and gynecologic (GYN) cancer patients. We are deepening our relationship with Woman’s Hospital through a new partnership, a Sisterhood, if you will.
This partnership combines the expertise of Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center and Woman’s — caring for cancer patients and women — to provide the most advanced breast and GYN cancer care system in the region. It’s an exciting moment as we come together to place an enhanced focus on women fighting these diseases.
The women in our lives are special to all of us and may include wives, mothers, daughters, sisters and friends, to name just a few. Who are you thinking of now? Whoever comes to mind, there is no doubt you would want her to have expert breast and GYN cancer care should she ever need it. Together, through this new partnership, we will ensure each patient has full access to personalized care close to home. Take a look at how we have come together and learn more about the unbreakable bonds we share with our family and friends with breast or GYN cancers: breastandgyncancer.org. You can also read the press release here.
Todd Stevens has helmed Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, a nonprofit, community-owned organization, for 17 years. All efforts led by Stevens have one goal in common: furthering the mission to improve survivorship and lessen the burden of cancer. In addition to serving as a member of the Baton Rouge Health District’s Board of Directors, Stevens served on the Louisiana MediFund governing board, is an Advanced Member of Healthcare Financial Management Association and past Chairman of the Louisiana Cancer and Lung Trust Fund Board.