Palmer, 76, sits in a recliner in a treatment room at John Stoddard Cancer Center,
an IV in each arm. She laughs with the nurses, discussing weekend plans and
that pesky vein that’s being difficult today. A simple observer would never
guess that she’s about to become radioactive.
a retired Presbyterian minister, has a neuroendocrine tumor of the pancreas, a
very specific type of cancer that makes her the perfect candidate for a new
treatment option at Stoddard called Lutathera (lutetium Lu-177 dotatate). Lutathera
is comprised of a targeting molecule that binds to specific receptors on her
tumor that allow radioactive particles to kill the tumor cells; the treatment
enters her body through the IV in her left arm. Palmer is also infused with amino
acids to protect her kidneys during treatment, which enter her body through the
IV in her right arm.
Stoddard Cancer Center is the only Central Iowa location for patients like
Palmer to receive Lutathera treatment. The only other location in Iowa is at
the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics in Iowa City. A resident of
Chariton, Palmer drives herself to Des Moines and back home every eight weeks
for a total of four treatments. The drive is about an hour, and each treatment lasts
5 hours, which means Palmer can fit the treatment and travel time both
directions all in one day. Palmer happens to have a friend who has the same
type of cancer and drives more than twice as far and has to stay overnight in a
hotel to receive her Lutathera treatment. "Having this treatment option
close by has made life so much easier for me," says Palmer.
is only the second person to receive the Lutathera treatment at Stoddard Cancer
Center and hasn’t had many adverse reactions. But that doesn’t mean she’s a
stranger to cancer. In 2013, she had surgery to remove a tumor near her kidney.
Nine years later, battling cancer again, she finds herself at the forefront of
this new type of cancer treatment, which includes strict instructions to stay
six feet away from people for a full three days after treatment due to the
radioactive material in her body. Regardless of the precautions, Palmer is
grateful for being part of something new and innovative. “Being in on the first
steps of something means taking things slowly,” says Palmer. “I’m not good at
with her on this cancer journey, however slow it may be, are the dedicated team
members at Stoddard Cancer Center. “I find the nursing staff is a lot of fun,”
says Palmer. “Sometimes I think they’re a bunch of worry warts, but I really
couldn’t ask for more. They take such good care of me.”
more information about the programs and treatment options at John Stoddard
Cancer Center, visit us online at johnstoddardcancer.org.