Patient shares experience with Breast & GYN Cancer Pavilion

Darian Graivshark
Wendy Fruge, who underwent treatment for breast cancer in 2018.

A year ago on May 1, the Breast & GYN Cancer Pavilion opened on the Woman's Hospital campus.

The Pavilion is a partnership between Woman's Hospital and Mary Bird Perkins–Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center. Within the first year, the Pavilion delivered approximately 22,000 interactions, experiences, or activities for patients care.

These 22,000 interactions include early detection screenings, 2,400+ surgeries, 5,066 radiation treatments, 2,987 infusion treatments, 1,384 patients screened for clinical trials, 340+ survivorship program and support group participants, 1,042 dietician visits, 2,344 women screened for breast cancer, and many more. 36 parishes were represented within the last year, including Mississippi counties.

There are upcoming additions that will be implemented at the Pavilion, including new treatment interventions, physician specialists, advanced clinical trials, and added support services to offer patients with a higher level of care.

One patient, Wendy Fruge, is an Ascension Parish resident. She has been receiving treatment at the Pavilion for the last year.

On July 5 of 2018, she received a mammogram, where she was shocked to receive the diagnosis of Stage I Triple Positive Breast Cancer.

"The Pavilion opened just months before I got this diagnosis," Fruge said. "It was a blessing, because I didn't have to travel somewhere like MD Anderson in Texas to receive treatment. After receiving the diagnosis, I began to receive treatments. I had a lumpectomy, received six rounds of chemo, 20 days of radiation, and one infusion every three weeks since I've been here."

Fruge is really thankful for the Pavilion, because everything is in one location. All of her doctors are located within just a floor of the other. Fruge explained that while undergoing treatments, it felt like she was going through it with a team cheering her on at the Pavilion.

Diagnosed at 45, now 46, Fruge encourages women to get mammograms when they can, even if they don't fully suspect anything.

"I didn't even have a lump, that's why it was such a shock to me. I think a lot of people think that when they're younger, it won't happen to them. I've noticed now, though, that a lot of younger women are getting diagnosed. It doesn't just happen to people of a certain age, it happens to everyone," Fruge said.

One thing she is really grateful for is the cold cap, and Fruge believes it really helped her one son and two step-sons from seeing the diagnosis as scary.

"The cold cap helps prevent cancer patients from losing their hair while they're receiving treatment. Basically, the cold stops the chemo from getting into the hair follicles. Not losing my hair make it seem less scary than it could have been," Fruge said.

Fruge is cancer free now after her treatments, but still receives preventative treatments at the Pavilion.

"The expertise, compassion, and collaboration at the Pavilion are its most powerful assets in fighting cancer," K. Scott Wester, President and CEO of Our Lady of the Lake, said. "This partnership is unique, and it makes sense from every standpoint to continue combining out vast resources so patients will receive the absolute best, most comprehensive care at every level."

Follow Darian on Twitter @dariangshark.