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Fast Track to Remission: Tackling Aggressive Cervical Cancer

Monday, April 29, 2019 8:58 AM

Cancer was the furthest thing from Vivian Chazen’s mind when she began experiencing heavy bleeding. A friend encouraged her to see a doctor, who quickly sent Chazen to NorthShore Evanston Hospital for outpatient surgery. The doctor initially suspected that it could be a uterine fibroid, which can cause heavy periods and pain. But the pathology report came back with something far more dangerous.

Unwelcome News
Chazen, a 33-year-old working mom from Morton Grove, was stunned when she learned of the devastating diagnosis: a very rare and aggressive form of cervical cancer. “They told me to drop whatever I was doing and see a NorthShore Kellogg Cancer Center oncologist the very next day,” recalled Chazen. “I was completely shocked, and at a loss trying to make sense of it.”

Chazen met with Elena Moore, MD, a gynecologic oncologist and part of NorthShore’s Advanced Gynecologic Care team, with expertise in a wide range of women’s health needs. Dr. Moore took decisive action, presenting Chazen’s case to the Kellogg Cancer Center multidisciplinary tumor board—a team of oncology experts that reviews cases and determines the best, most effective treatment options.

Comprehensive Intervention
For Chazen’s potentially lethal cancer, the recommended care plan included a three-pronged attack: minimally invasive robotic radical hysterectomy followed by radiation and chemotherapy.

“Vivian’s high-grade neuroendocrine cervical cancer is very rare and has a high risk of spreading,” Dr. Moore explained. “But through our aggressive treatment plan, her prognosis is very good.”

“I really like Dr. Moore and felt lucky to have her,” said Chazen, who initially was reluctant to accept the idea of a hysterectomy but ultimately felt reassured by Dr. Moore’s expertise.

After surgery, Chazen saw NorthShore-affiliated Radiation Oncologist Arif Shaikh, MD. “Everyone at NorthShore was great! It was so important to me to have doctors who cared,” Chazen continued.

In her career, Chazen helps older adults with technology, and she is very active in the social media community, where she openly shared her cancer journey in a blog and through video posts.

“I really hated not being my best self,” added Chazen, who is now cancer-free. “I’m happy to have overcome the obstacles and move forward with my life.”

“Vivian has been through so much and, thankfully, is now in complete remission,” noted Dr. Moore. “She’s been an amazing trouper.”