Experimental treatment worked for her

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of stories of cancer survivors published as a prelude to the 2013 Relay for Life.

Cancer knows no boundaries and always seems to come at the most inopportune times, especially for Andalusia’s Glinda Simmons.

0424-Glinda-SimmonsSimmons, who has been cancer-free for the last decade, said cancer visited her “when I had a lot going on in my life.”

“In March 2002, my husband was diagnosed with renal failure and had to go on dialysis,” she said. “We learned how to do home dialysis. So, I was busy with that and work.”

By November, Simmons said her husband had learned to do his own dialysis treatments.

Simmons said she had religiously gone each year to get her mammogram because her mother died from breast cancer in 1978.

“I usually went to Montgomery to breast cancer clinic,” she said. “After all that was going on with my husband, I decided to go to Opp and get a mammogram.”

A few days later, she received a letter that said the mammogram found “something that looked suspicious,” and Simmons was told to contact her doctor.

“I was sent to Montgomery for a biopsy,” she said. “Then I went to see a surgeon – a super, dynamic surgeon, Dr. Howard Snider. He told me about a new procedure that was still experimental called mammosite radiation. I only had to have 10 treatments of radiation with this procedure and with all that I had going on, I didn’t have time to make 37 trips to Montgomery.”

Simmons said she had two surgeries, one in which she had a balloon inserted into her breast.

As part of the mammosite radiation treatments, the balloon is inflated with saline solution so that it fits snugly into the breast cavity. It remains inflated during the five-day treatment.

During the therapy, the portion of the catheter that remains outside the breast is connected to a computer-controlled High Dose Rate machine that inserts a radiation seed to deliver the therapy.

Simmons said she doesn’t remember what stage her cancer was in when she was diagnosed, but knows that it was the “fast-growing kind,” and she didn’t have to under go chemo treatments.

In February 2013, she had genetic testing in which she found out she did not have the breast cancer gene.

Simmons said when she was initially diagnosed she didn’t think she could handle anything else.

“But the good Lord, and a positive outlook on life, helped me get through it,” she said. “I tell my daughter, ‘Don’t borrow from trouble. Take one day at a time.’ ”

Simmons said she had “good friends, church members and a lot of prayers” that helped bring her through it, as well.

Though Simmons won’t be able to make this year’s Relay for Life event, she’s been active with Covington Electric Cooperative’s Relay for Life team for years, and knows the importance of the event and its fundraising.

“I do what I can for them,” she said.