Protecting your Heart During Cancer Treatment: June 23, 2019
Full of smiles and laughter, Peggy Beal’s positive attitude has brought her through some challenging times. “Keep that good attitude even if you have a hard time with attitude, try and make it. Sometimes it’s all you got; it is,” she said.
In 1982 Peggy was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and underwent 60 treatments of radiation. “Years later I ended up with melanoma on my back; then I ended up with two heart stents in 2005 and 2007. I ended up, two years ago, with breast cancer and had a double mastectomy,” said Peggy.
After being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015, Peggy underwent chemotherapy, but her doctor advised her not to undergo radiation.“She presents a unique problem, and she’s exactly the kind of patient for which cardio-oncology wound up being a subspecialty,” said Dr. Anita Arnold, a cardio-oncologist with Lee Health. Dr. Arnold helps patients who develop heart conditions after a cancer diagnosis. “You can almost see how one thing happens and the next thing happens,” she said.
Today, Peggy awaits, yet another heart surgery, this time to repair a leaky valve. A problem Dr. Arnold says is likely linked to radiation years ago. “Some of the things she had was at a very young age that was not something we would expect, and it was all in the areas that she was radiated.
Today Peggy lives with numerous health conditions that doctors say are linked to her radiation. Things like thyroid abnormalities, coronary artery disease, and valvular abnormalities.
“It’s all readily treatable, but it needs to be looked for,” said Dr. Arnold.
Patients who have a history of cancer and heart disease may benefit from having a cardio-oncologist to monitor their blood pressure and heart health.