5-Star in Gynecologic Surgery
Healthgrades named Cooley Dickinson one of 461 hospitals as a 5-star recipient for gynecologic surgery for the second consecutive year (2012). Cooley Dickinson is also ranked in the top 5 in Massachusetts for gynecologic surgery outcomes. All surgeries have risks for complications; Healthgrades gives 5-star ratings to hospitals with complications rates far lower than expected. In fact, Healthgrades’ research found overall that women who undergo gynecologic surgery at 5-star rated hospitals experience 56 percent fewer complications than at lower-performing hospitals. Learn more at healthgrades.com.
No one expects to be told they have cancer. So it was for Donna Sarro, whose diagnosis came out of left field.
Sarro is healthy, watches what she eats, and walks 2 to 3 miles a day. But over the summer, she noticed some unexpected symptoms that suggested the most common type of uterine cancer, endometrial cancer.
"The bleeding was telling, especially after going through menopause," Sarro, 60, said of the initial symptoms that prompted a visit to gynecologist Barbara Jones, MD, of Hampshire OBGYN Associates.
Test results revealed precancerous cells in the endometrium, the lining of Sarro's uterus. As a precaution, Sarro's gynecologist recommended that her colleague, gynecologist Raeph Laughingwell, MD, perform a full hysterectomy using a minimally invasively technique. "Minimally invasive" means smaller incisions and generally faster recovery from surgery.
At my age, I was fine with her suggestion; I was beyond childbearing years. Still, I wanted a second opinion," Sarro recalled.
Barbara Jones, MD
Sarro's research uncovered "two good gyn oncologists" in the state. "One was busy. The other, Dr. Annekathryn Goodman of Mass General, saw me quickly and confirmed Dr. Jones's treatment recommendations.
"Dr. Goodman concurred that the surgery could be done minimally invasively at Cooley Dickinson," said Sarro.
Hampshire OBGYN "did all the work for me," lining up appointments. Now, Sarro, of Ashfield, faced the burden of major surgery, but felt at ease.
On the day of surgery, the nurses and staff "were professional and answered my questions. The anesthesiologist was very good. I woke up and couldn't believe how good I felt."
Sarro's surgery went so well her surgeon Laughingwell spoke with her about not "overdoing it." She recalls not needing pain medication, compared with others she spoke to who had a hysterectomy.
"Dr. Laughingwell was kind, nice, attentive. He came to visit me several times while I recuperated. I was discharged without any complications." Two days after surgery, Sarro attended a wedding shower for her nephew's fiancée.
These days, the only reminders of her surgery are several tiny incisions along and below her waistline.
"Call it cliché, but this was a wake-up call," added Sarro, who is grateful for support from her partner, daughter, and friends. "I did my research. Spoke to people. Reached out to the Cancer Connection to learn about cancer, its after-effects, and how to cope."
Six months after her surgery, Sarro says she is fortunate. "Yes, cancer is a shock, but pay attention to your body, have your screenings, and don't be afraid to confront this diagnosis. Take care of yourself."
Did You Know? Uterine cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women and is the most commonly diagnosed gynecologic cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.