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Surviving With Incurable Breast Cancer

breast cancer

Dr. Amelia Zelnak

Surviving With Incurable Breast Cancer

This week I sat down with breast cancer specialist, Dr. Amelia Zelnak, of Atlanta Cancer Care.  We talked about patients dealing with incurable breast cancer or they have a malignant recurrence.  Pfizer, maker of several medications used to treat various cancers, have launched an initiative, “Breast Cancer: A Story Half Told”. 

This effort aims to expand the breast cancer conversation on multiple fronts.  As the website states, “Earlier this year, Pfizer unveiled the results of two complementary studies that uncovered gaps in the breast cancer conversation within society at large and between patients and physicians in the doctor’s office, and along with leaders in the breast cancer community issued a public call-to-action to expand the breast cancer dialogue to include metastatic disease. Breast Cancer: A Story Half Told – Supporting Workplace Conversations aims to identify gaps in the current conversation about breast cancer and the workplace, and encourage healthcare professionals and employers to join together with women with breast cancer to better address their unique workplace needs.”

We talk about this and more.  Check back soon for more info!

Cryotherapy for Early Stage Breast Cancer


CW Hall and Dr. April Speed

Cryotherapy for Early Stage Breast Cancer

On this week’s episode I sat down with award-winning Atlanta-area breast surgeon, Dr. April Speed regarding treatment options for breast cancers, including cryotherapy.  She shared what motivated her to enter the medical field as her chosen profession and how she is pleased to have brought her expertise in treating cancers of the breast to a community that has limited access to cancer care.

Dr. Speed discussed the process through which she determines best course of action for treating a worrisome lump of the breast, be that a lumpectomy (removing the lump but leaving the healthy breast tissue), mastectomy (removing the affected breast), or a minimally-invasive approach.

Given the short recovery time of the minimally-invasive option, it is desirable when the tumor type and size fall within established guidelines.  In many cases, patients are able to return to work the same day and typically results in less pain for them. One such procedure is the Visica 2 Procedure, made by Sanarus. (Visica 2 is the Treatment system, the Visica Procedure is the procedure.)

This technology allows the breast surgeon to use a small, super-cooled probe that is guided to the abnormal tissue within the breast by imagery.  The probe is below freezing, and is used to freeze the cancerous tissue, destroying it.  Over time, once the procedure is complete, the destroyed tissue is slowly reabsorbed.

I was pleased to talk about this with Dr. Speed, as she is one of fewer than 10 breast surgeons in the state of Georgia who are able to perform this minimally-invasive, early stage breast cancer treatment.

About Sanarus/the Visica Procedure – In 2001, the Visica® Treatment System was the first system available for cryoablation of fibroadenomas. Since then, our systems have been used to successfully treat thousands of patients. Since 2007, the Visica 2 Treatment System has been used to treat cancer in hundreds of cryoablation-assisted surgeries and dozens of cryoablation-only procedures in clinical trials.

Disclaimer:  The Visica 2 Treatment system is FDA-cleared for the ablation of cancerous or malignant tissue and benign tumors. It’s been used in over 5,000 cryo-assisted surgeries and cryo-only procedures.

Special Guest: 

Dr. April Speed, MD, Global Breast Health & Wellness Center; Just Breast, LLC

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  • Doctor of Medicine, Morehouse School of Medicine
  • Residency, MD Anderson Cancer Center
  • Board of Directors, Susan G. Komen for the Cure
  • Board of Directors, Southeastern Primary Care Consortium

Dr. Priyah Rudolph

Dr. Priyah Rudolph

On this episode of Top Docs Radio I hosted Dr. Priyah Rudolph, medical oncologist with Georgia Cancer Specialists.  Dr. Rudolph practices in the Athens, GA office for the group and has expertise with several forms of cancer.  She shared her poignant story about how she came to choose oncology as her specialty of practice.

Dr. Rudolph described how several members of her family experienced cancer in their lives, including her mother.  In speaking with her it’s clear she has a very personal connection with patients she sees in her practice and clearly understands the stress and concern they feel.

For this conversation, we focused on breast cancer.  According to, in the US, roughly 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.  Nearly 300,000 new cases will be diagnosed this year.

Priya shared the importance self-breast exams, conducted at least monthly, paired with annual mammograms annually after the age of 40 or sooner if direct descendants of breast cancer patients.  Early detection helps give the patient more options for treatment, as well as the likelihood of successful treatment.

She talked about various treatments available and what to expect should the troubling news come that a finding is indeed cancer.  On a positive note, we talked about the fact that breast cancer is very survivable with today’s technology and medical advancements.

Special Guest:

Dr. Priyah Rudolph, MD, of Georgia Cancer Specialists  Pinterest-logo  facebook_logo_small3  instagram-logo-transparent-png-i11 (16x16)  linkedin_small1  youtube logo

Georgia Cancer Specialists

  • Doctor of Medicine, Coimbatore Medical College
  • Residency, Yale University School of Medicine
  • Fellowship, Yale University School of Medicine
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology
  • American Society of Hematology
  • PhD in Physiology at The Ohio State University


Atlanta Plastic & Reconstructive Specialists


Atlanta Plastic & Reconstructive Specialists

This week I featured 3 of the physicians from Atlanta Plastic & Reconstructive Specialists.  They are known for providing expert care for patients in need of reconstructive surgery after cancer treatment or trauma as well as for those who are seeking aesthetic procedures.

Dr. Donald Nunn is a triple-boarded surgeon and unique in the fact that he completed residencies and board certification in 3 specialties, Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, Ear, Nose, & Throat, and Plastic surgery.  He is able to bring this range of training and experience to bear for his patients who need facial surgery as well as the full scope of plastic surgery procedures.

Dr. Bahair Ghazi shared how he benefited from spending several months training in Belgiam, learning some subtle differences in approach that he’s able to apply in his work when it can enhance the final outcome of his surgeries.  It’s clear talking with Dr. Ghazi he is passionate about plastic surgery and how it can have such a positive impact on quality of life for the patients he sees.  He shared some great information on the tummy tuck and pandectomy procedures for patients who have lost significant amounts of weight or that are wanting to become more active but excess body fat inhibits doing so.

Dr. Susann Bedford talked about how she feels a special relationship with the women she’s treating with breast surgery, whether reconstructive after cancer treatment, or aesthetic for women wanting to change their look for improved body image.  She shared how she was able to spend time during her training with some of the world’s highly-regarded specialists in breast and plastic surgery, helping her provide some of the best techniques available to achieve the best aesthetic result possible for a given case.

Special Guests:

Dr. Donald Nunn, MD, of Atlanta Plastic & Reconstructive Specialists  facebook_logo_small3  twitter_logo_small-e1403698475314  linkedin_small1  youtube logo  Pinterest-logo  google-plus-logo-red-265px


  • Doctor of Dental Surgery, Medical College of Virginia
  • Residency, Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, University of North Carolina
  • American Board of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery
  • Doctor of Medicine, Medical College of Virginia
  • Residency, Neck and Head Surgery, Medical College of Virginia
  • Residency, Plastic Surgery, University of California
  • American Board of Plastic Surgery
  • American Board of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery

Dr. Bahair Ghazi, MD, of Atlanta Plastic & Reconstructive Specialists  twitter_logo_small-e1403698475314  facebook_logo_small3  linkedin_small1


  • Surgical Training

    Emory University Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery
    Emory University General Surgery
    West Virginia University, M.D.

  • Externships

    Cosmetic Surgery Sint Martens Latem, Belgium
    Cosmetic & Breast Reconstruction Brussels, Belgium
    Microsurgical Breast Reconstruction Ghent, Belgium

  • Board Certifications

    American Board of Plastic Surgery
    American Board of Surgery

Dr. Susann Beford, MD, of Atlanta Plastic & Reconstructive Specialists  facebook_logo_small3  linkedin_small1


  • Doctor of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine
  • Residency, Plastic Surgery, Barnes-Jewish Hospital of Washington University Hospital
  • Fellowship, Breast & Aesthetic Surgery, Georgetown University
  • American Board of Surgery
  • American Board of Plastic Surgery



Breast Cancer Awareness

Breast Cancer Awareness Month


Breast Cancer Awareness

This week I sat down with three women who each contribute great energy to promote breast cancer awareness in our community.  We kicked off Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October) on this episode with Janet Beebe, CEO, of Breast Cancer Survivors Network, Kim Goff, Executive Director, of It’s The Journey/Atlanta 2 Day Walk for Breast Cancer, and breast cancer survivor/6x Atlanta 2 Day Walk for Breast Cancer participant, Yvonne Lloyd.  Breast Cancer Survivors Network is a non-profit organization that supports breast cancer patients who have insufficient means to purchase breast prostheses after mastectomy as well as covering cost for mammography for women under 40 who are at higher risk for developing breast cancer.  To date the organization has helped over 30,000 women in Georgia through their various services.  The are currently being supported through an impressive charitable donation by McD0nough Toyota.  The dealership is covering the cost of a month-long TV ad campaign on Atlanta’s 11 Alive TV with a “Drive Cancer Away” series of ads to help raise awareness of the organization and breast cancer in general.

The Atlanta 2-Day Walk for Breast Cancer is an annual fundraising endurance walk that takes place this year on October 11-12th and takes participants through 30 miles of Atlanta over the course of 2 days. This year, 950 walkers have committed to fundraising and training for this event. Participants commit to raising $500-1000 each, depending on whether they intend to walk 1 or both days.  Since 2002, the Atlanta 2-Day Walk for Breast Cancer has funded 214 grants totaling $10 million to support breast health programs throughout Georgia. These programs provide mammograms, clinical breast exams, genetic counseling and testing, biopsies, support services, education, and much more. Many of our grants have a specific focus on under-served individuals in our community- uninsured and under-insured women for whom these types of breast health measures are often not available.

Kim Goff, Executive Director, of It’s The Journey/Atlanta 2 Day Walk for Breast Cancer brought along 6 year survivor of breast cancer (and with this year’s event, 6x participant in Atlanta 2 Day Walk for Breast Cancer), Yvonne Lloyd.  Yvonne was kind enough to share her story of diagnosis and treatment and talked about participating in the 2 Day Walk.  She gave some practical advice for folks looking to participate in the event as well as how to remain strong in the face of dealing with breast cancer through faith and support from friends and loved ones.

Breast Cancer Awareness on TopDocsRADIO

Special Guests:

Janet Beebe, CEO of Breast Cancer Survivors Network  twitter_logo_small  google-plus-logo-red-265px  facebook_logo_small3  

Breast Cancer Survivors Network

  • 31 Yr, 2 time Breast Cancer Survivor…4 time cancer survivor
  • President, Founder and Director of The Breast Cancer Survivors’ Network, Inc.
  • Recipient of multiple awards including “Volunteer of the Year” from Am. Cancer Society and United Way and “Business Woman of the Year” by Nat’l. Assoc. of Business Women
  • Frequently spotlighted by numerous publications and media outlets including Atlanta Magazine, ATL Journal & Constitution, Fayette Woman’s Magazine and others

Kim Goff, Executive Director of It’s The Journey, Inc/Atlanta 2 Day Walk for Breast Cancer  twitter_logo_small  facebook_logo_small3  linkedin_small1  youtube logo

It's the Journey Atlanta 2 Day Walk for Breast Cancer

  • Consultant, The Chason Group
  • Former Senior Vice President, Georgia Chamber of Commerce
  • MBA, Georgia State University
  • Georgia State University Robinson College of Business Alumni Award

Yvonne Lloyd, Breast Cancer Survivor

Atlanta 2 Day Walk for Breast Cancer

  • Lobular carcinoma Stage 2 lesion without lymph node involvement
  • Chose mastectomy/reconstruction
  • 5 year course of aromatase inhibitor, Femara
  • This year makes 6x participant in Atlanta 2 Day Walk event

Important Cancer Resources for Georgians

GeorgiaCORE and TurningPoint Breast Cancer Rehabilitation


Cancer Resources for Georgians

Special Guests: Alice Kerber, Angie Patterson, and Erin Long

This week we’ll hear about important cancer resources available to patients in Georgia from Alice Kerber and Angie Patterson of GeorgiaCORE. The organization is a public private partnership dedicated to facilitating cancer prevention, care, research, and education.  They are focused on helping patients get better access to available cancer resources from early diagnosis to best treatments available, and support once they are survivors.  Through initiatives such as, Georgia Breast Cancer Genomic Consortium, and the Cancer Patient Navigator program, GeorgiaCORE facilitates greater community awareness and helps improve cancer outcomes for Georgians.  TurningPoint Breast Cancer Rehabilitation provides a range of specialized rehabilitation services tailored specifically for the breast cancer survivor.  As a charitable organization they are able to provide care to under- or uninsured patients who require care as well.  Director of Development, Erin Walker Long discusses the therapies they provide along with some of their upcoming fund-raising initiatives.

Alice Kerber, MN, APRN, ACNS-BC, AOCN, APNG, GeorgiaCORE   facebook_logo_small3  twitter_logo_small  linkedin_small1  youtube logo

  • Oncology Nurse Specialist working to improve quality of cancer care in Georgia
  • 34 years of oncology experience, both inpatient & outpatient
  • Heavily involved in a CDC program, “Georgia Breast Cancer Genomic Consortium”
  • 2011 Recipient, Oncology Nurse of the Year by Georgia March of Dimes

Angie Patterson, Vice President of Research & Education, GeorgiaCORE

  • Co-founder, Cancer Patient Navigators of Georgia
  • Focused heavily on improving cancer care through implementation of patient navigation and survivorship programs
  • Breast Cancer Survivor
  • Volunteer with Northside Hospital’s Network of Hope

Erin Long, Development Director for TurningPoint Breast Cancer Rehabilitation  facebook_logo_small3  twitter_logo_small  feed logo

  • 15 years of fundraising experience in healthcare and education
  • Enjoy tennis, exercise and reading
  • Mother of two children under 4

Rehabilitation After Breast Reconstruction Surgery and Radiation Therapy


Top Docs Radio features healthcare providers and professionals sharing their expertise to “Get the Word Out” about a variety of health problems, treatments and community concerns to elevate our community’s well-being.


Rehabilitation After Breast Reconstruction Surgery and Radiation Therapy

This week, we’re going to talk more about the experience of chemotherapy, memory issues that can arise during treatment – sometimes referred to as “chemo brain”, and learn all about Turning Point in Sandy Springs, a rehabilitation facility that focuses on the needs of patients who have had previous radiation therapy.

The host of Top Docs Radio is Charles “CW” Hall with Hyperbaric Physicians of Georgia.


Cookie Aftergut

  • 12 year Stage II breast cancer survivor, treated with chemotherapy and radiation
  • Founder of ChemoChic and ChemoFlage
  • Recipient of “Yoplait Champion” award and recognized by the Susan G. Komen Foundation and SELF Magazine for her community work

Karen Burpo

  • Community Outreach Coordinator for Turning Point Breast Cancer Rehabilitation (and former patient)
  • Surviving cancer
  • Master Gardener
  • Supportive counselor and companion to friends going through diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer
  • Active in church and neighborhood activities
Cookie Aftergut, Charles "CW" Hall, Karen Burpo

Cookie Aftergut, Charles “CW” Hall, Karen Burpo