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Coleen - Brain Cancer

Beating Four Cancers: Coleen Moskal’s Story

ColeenAfter beating four types of cancer within three years, Coleen Moskal is alive and well thanks to the physicians, staff and the leading-edge technology at the Cancer Center at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor.

Coleen’s amazing journey with cancer began in 2005 when she was diagnosed and treated for breast cancer.  In 2007 the cancer returned, but had traveled to her lung.  She received more surgery and radiation.  Then in 2008, she was diagnosed with brain cancer.  The tumor was quite large and resided in her frontal lobe. Coleen’s speech and memory were already affected so her neurosurgeon, Dr. Geoffrey Thomas, suggested that she have surgery right away.  After the surgery, Dr. Thomas recommended that Coleen also undergo state-of-the-art CyberKnife radiosurgery treatment to ensure all margins were free of cancer, an effort to make sure that the cancer would not return.

Unfortunately Coleen learned that the insurance company would not pay for her CyberKnife treatment since it was considered a second surgery for the same tumor.  Dr. Walter Sahijdak, a radiation oncologist, teamed up with the Moskals and was able to convince the insurance company that CyberKnife treatment was the proper standard of care in her case.  The insurance company approved the procedure and Coleen had her CyberKnife treatment in June of 2008. In one hour, the CyberKnife had effectively rid her brain of any cancerous cells left behind from her brain surgery.

According to Coleen, the CyberKnife procedure was a breeze. She had no side effects and was able to return to her life much sooner than her previous cancer treatments – so much so that on the evening of her first CyberKnife treatment, she felt well enough to watch a Red Wings playoff game at a restaurant, eat pizza and sleep comfortably the entire night.

After her treatment, Coleen had monthly routine check-ups, MRIs and CT scans. In December 2008, her oncologist found a new tumor in her brain. Unsure whether to receive whole-brain radiation or CyberKnife treatment, Coleen did much research. After speaking with fellow cancer patients, her decision to choose CyberKnife was simple. She had her second CyberKnife treatment – only thirty-two minutes! – that successfully treated the small tumor.

"I just marvel at the technology and I marvel at the people who are able to run it and make it so easy," she shared.

Coleen has a remarkable story of cancer survival. She endured many forms of cancer treatment and today she is cancer free. This summer, Coleen went up north for her birthday where she golfed five days in a row.

"Every day that I wake up I thank the Lord for everything that’s been put in my path, the care that I’ve had and the doctors that I’ve seen. I feel good."

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