Marty Sorensen is no stranger to the field of health care. She has spent over 30 years in medicine as an EMT and CPR/First Aid instructor. However, when she found herself facing ovarian cancer, her familiarity was of little comfort. Her complex health concerns took her down a whole new avenue of health care. Luckily, her team of expert caregivers at Aurora was there to guide her through this journey.
Marty's story all begins with a visit to her family medicine physician for continence and pelvic floor concerns. "My family doctor referred me for more specialized care with an OB/GYN. From there I was introduced to Dr. John Utrie. All the doctors worked together to ensure that my specific concerns were addressed," remembers Marty.
John Utrie, DO, is a urogynecologist with advanced training in minimally invasive gynecologic surgery. Dr. Utrie diagnosed Marty with pelvic prolapse. After exploring her treatment options, Marty scheduled a minimally-invasive hysterectomy and pelvic reconstruction procedure with Dr. Utrie.
In the weeks before surgery Marty traveled to Arkansas to do some work on the retirement property that she and her husband owned in Hot Springs. While she was there, Marty experienced trouble urinating and ended up in the Emergency Room when she was unable to pass urine at all.
When Marty returned home, Dr. Utrie's nurse, Gloria, called her to follow-up on her visit with him - she knew nothing about Marty's trip to the ER in Hot Springs. "When I explained my experience, Gloria insisted that I see Dr. Utrie the following day," says Marty.
"This is when things really started happening fast," recalls Marty. Dr. Utrie performed a pelvic exam and ordered an ultrasound that revealed a suspicious area. Marty was scheduled to see Scott Kamelle, MD, a gynecologic oncologist with Aurora, the next day. "Although the word ‘cancer' was now in the picture, I had a team of specialists who were working quickly in order to find definitive answers and an accurate diagnosis."
Looking back, Marty recalls other symptoms she was experiencing such as abdominal cramping, lower back pain, horrible acid reflux and bloating. "I had been doing a lot of walking and I lost fifteen pounds, but my stomach looked like I was eight months pregnant," Marty explains.
Following her consultation with Dr. Kamelle, Marty's surgery date was moved up. Dr. Kamelle began with a laparoscopic procedure that allowed him to pass a small video camera through small incisions in order to further evaluate the area that had shown up on the ultrasound. The diagnosis was stage IIIc ovarian cancer. Dr. Kamelle converted the surgery to a traditional open hysterectomy and oophorectomy to remove the entire uterus and the ovaries. He also performed "optimal debulking" of the original tumor and three other suspicious areas. Optimal debulking removes as much of the visible cancer as possible.
As Marty recovered from her surgery and faced her diagnosis, she was connected with two additional members of her health care team. Peter Johnson, MD, also a gynecologic oncology specialist with Aurora, would oversee Marty's chemotherapy treatment at Aurora West Allis Medical Center, which was closer to her home and more convenient and comfortable for her. And, Deana Johnson, PsyD, a health psychology specialist was available to meet with Marty at the same location. "Deana knew where I was physically and was able to help me deal with the emotional and psychological aspects of my disease," says Marty.
Selecting an Aurora provider also connected Marty with a clinical trial she was able to participate in. She is currently in remission. "I have my life back and I'm like a new person. I wear dresses now, have a new passion for art museums and have become involved with the Ovarian Cancer Alliance. She recently taught a twelve hour CPR/First Aid class and has a trip to Washington D.C. planned.
"I've talked to other women throughout the country, and throughout the world, and I hear stories about how they have to wait to see their doctor or a specialist. They hear the word 'cancer' and then are scheduled for their next appointment two weeks out."
Marty is grateful to have had a coordinated team. "When everything started happening so fast, I had doctors, nurses and other care providers right there, working together to make sure I received the best care possible."
To learn more about minimally-invasive gynecologic surgery, or to find a doctor that can address your personal health care needs, please call 855-800-6447.