Icon Cancer Centre Holmesglen gave Victoria life-changing options on her cancer journey

Icon Writers / 26 Dec, 2022

Patients in the Melbourne’s south-east are now benefiting from state-of-the-art treatment using Varian’s IDENTIFY™ Surface Guidance System, an advanced technology that delivers highly accurate radiation treatment without the need to have permanent tattoo marks.

Traditional radiation therapy for breast cancer requires patients to receive very small but permanent tattoos on their chest. These tattoos help the radiation therapist position the patient correctly and deliver treatment to the right location. IDENTIFY’s technology marks a new standard in radiation therapy and eliminates the need to permanently mark the body, using advanced optical surface tracking and real time motion management to continuously monitor a patient’s position during treatment, while simultaneously tracking the patient’s natural breathing movements.

Moorabbin local, Victoria Backman is the first woman to benefit from the new treatment at Icon Cancer Centre Holmesglen. Victoria (58) was diagnosed with breast cancer in January this year.

“I was dressing in front on the mirror, which is something I don’t usually do, and I noticed an indentation in my left breast. My first thought was, “I’m getting older, and gravity isn’t my friend.” I didn’t think much of it at first. But when it didn’t go away and I then noticed a lump, I decided to see my doctor. It was just before Christmas last year and I tried to make an appointment with my doctor, but they were away at the time, so I made an appointment for the new year. After I made the appointment, I had a feeling that something was wrong and I shouldn’t wait, so I called back and asked to see the first available doctor. During the appointment, the doctor told me he was alarmed, and he thought it could be something serious. I was booked in to have tests done straight away and he also referred me to an oncologist the next day. It all happened so quickly. I was terrified,” says Victoria.

Following her diagnosis of Stage 2 breast cancer, which had spread to a lymph node, Victoria underwent six months of chemotherapy, surgery to remove the tumour and completed 20 sessions of radiation therapy at Icon Cancer Centre Holmesglen.

“It’s been a whirlwind since I was diagnosed but the support I’ve received from my husband, two sons and our extended family and friends has been amazing. The team at Icon are fabulous. You can see they work really well as a team, and I feel like I’m in the best hands possible. I trust the people at Icon who are guiding me through the radiation therapy treatment and I’m grateful to have access to an advanced treatment like the tattoo-less radiation therapy. To be honest, the markings wouldn’t have bothered me. For me, it’s about knowing the treatment is accurate and gives me the best chance of beating the cancer,” says Victoria.

Victoria has no history of cancer in her family and says her diagnosis came as a shock. But thanks to the support of her nearest and dearest, she has stayed positive throughout her cancer journey.

“I’m not going to let (the cancer) defeat me. There is a positive in every negative. I know it’s cliché, but it has made me appreciate the life I have even more. I’m looking forward to treatment ending and making the most of life. I feel like I’ve lost three years of my life thanks to COVID and cancer, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Victoria says.

Radiation Oncologist at Icon Cancer Centre Holmesglen, Dr Andrew See says the centre is focused on continuously improving the treatment experience for local breast cancer patients to ensure they can access the latest in personalised radiation therapy treatment closer to home.

“At Icon Holmesglen, we are dedicated to supporting our patients both during their treatment and beyond. We know that avoiding the need for permanent tattoos can reduce the emotional impact a cancer diagnosis may have on patients. This system gives them a choice and supports our commitment to offering state-of-the-art treatment options for our community,” Dr See said.

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