Maximum Care from Minimally Invasive Treatment

Woman Chooses Laparoscopic Surgery for Effective Colon Cancer Treatment

Hand-drawn illustrations from her physician, Konstantin Umanskiy, MD, helped Mary Carlene Shedd pick the best treatment to beat colon cancer.

As an aerobics instructor, personal trainer and former gym owner, Mary Carlene Shedd was always the picture of good health.

When she noticed a little blood in her stool, she went for an exam thinking it was probably no big deal. But a colonoscopy at a hospital in Michigan City, Ind., revealed a cancerous lesion.

“When the gastroenterologist said I had colon cancer I was like, ‘Really? How could this be?’” she recalled. “I was always exercising, always conscious of what I ate. I was the person who never drank pop or used artificial sweeteners. You start thinking: ‘What did I do? What caused this?’”

“I really didn’t have a lot of emotions about it or depression,” said Shedd, 55, who lives in New Buffalo, Mich. “As soon as I found out I said: ‘OK, we’re going to take care of it. We’re going to get it done.’”

She asked her doctor where he would go for treatment. Without hesitation, he recommended she see the University of Chicago's Konstantin Umanskiy, MD, assistant professor of surgery, who specializes in minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery for colon and rectal diseases.

“You don’t manipulate the bowel as much,” Umanskiy said. “And the patient has a much quicker return to bowel function. Because of these small incisions, we almost never see infections or hernias.”

Dr. Konstantin Umanskiy Konstantin Umanskiy, MD

When she first met with Umanskiy, Shedd was immediately impressed. “He was very generous with his time and answered my questions very well,” she said. He even drew pictures to illustrate the surgical options and explained how he could use the minimally invasive laparoscopic technique to perform a lower anterior bowel resection rather than open abdominal surgery to remove the cancerous tissue.

Open surgery requires an 8-inch incision along a visible part of the abdomen above the belly button. But the laparoscopic procedure is done with two or three tiny incisions about 1/4 inch each, and a small 3-inch incision that is done inside the bikini line, hidden from view.

In August 2009, Shedd underwent the laparoscopic procedure, which took about 3 1/2 hours. She was out of the hospital in five days, and had no complications. “I had a very good experience. I left that hospital after major surgery, after getting poked and prodded all over the place, without a dime-sized bruise on me,” Shedd said.

Umanskiy recommended she follow up with 12 chemotherapy sessions, which she was scheduled to complete on April 6, 2010--her 56th birthday. “I’m planning to resume my exercise and build up my endurance again,” she said. “I want to get back to my daily routine.”

May 2010