Cindy Perrone

Cancer patient Cindy Perrone (center), of Northern Cambria, poses with daughters Carina (left) and Trina.

Cindy Perrone’s challenge in dealing with breast cancer is not unlike those of other cancer survivors.

A visit to a physician, a mammogram, diagnoses and treatment.

But Perrone’s story has a twist.

It includes cutting-edge technology for treating breast cancer.

Deep inspiration breath-hold protocol has been initiated at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center at John P. Murtha Regional Cancer Center in Johnstown, where Perrone sought treatments.

The protocol was developed to reduce radiation exposure to the heart when treating cancer in the left breast.

“It was hard to hold my breath,” said Perrone, of Northern Cambria. “I hold my breath five times so my heart and my lungs are farther from my tumor.

“It went really well,” she said.

Perrone said she had two mammograms beginning in April and a biopsy.

The test showed it was cancer.

“I was pretty much devastated,” Perrone said.

“Not knowing and having to tell my children was the hardest part.”

Perrone, an administrative clerk at the Cambria County Courthouse, has two grown children and three grown stepchildren. She broke the news to them on Mother’s Day.

Perrone had a lumpectomy in July and has had 20 radiation treatments since August. She is grateful the cancer was caught early and is treatable.

“I haven’t had my follow-up mammogram yet, so that’s sticking in the back of my mind, but I feel really good,” she said.

For Perrone, keeping a healthy outlook is what keeps her going.

“I try to stay positive for my family,” she said. “It’s been an emotional roller coaster. 

“I consider myself fortunate,” Perrone said. “I’m committed to the yearly mammogram.”

She also takes comfort in a co-worker’s courage in fighting her own battle with cancer.

“She is just so strong,” Perrone said.

“You have to find the strength within yourself.”  

Patrick Buchnowski is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 532-5061. Follow him on Twitter @PatBuchnowskiTD.

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