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Komen: Surviving Both Cancer & Heart Problems

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Healthy Living

MIAMI (CBS4) – In the fight against cancer, sometimes one medical treatment can lead to other medical problems. That was the case for a local woman who has dealt with both cancer and heart treatments but thanks to her doctors; she is now on the path to a healthier life.

Doctors diagnosed Lisa Bondurant with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma when she was 21.

“Initially they told me I had about 9 months to live,” said Bondurant. “It was not a good thing to hear at 21.”

Lisa had 52 rounds of radiation to her chest and against all the odds she beat the lymphoma. But that isn’t the end of the story.

“That extensive radiation to my chest area, axilla, and so on caused cell mutation,” explained Bondurant. “Exactly 21 years later I was diagnosed with breast cancer.”

Bondurant had chemo and radiation to kill the cancer. She was healthy for a few years and then she started having difficulty breathing.

“In May of 2010, I actually dropped in a parking lot and my heart either stopped completely or briefly stopped,” said Bondurant.

Doctors suspected heart damage from the chemo drugs.

“Some of the chemotherapy agents that are used are cardio-toxic,” explained Dr. Jorge Castriz, a heart surgeon with Palm Beach Garden Medical Center., “They can cause cardiomyopathies and result in a weakening of the heart muscle.”

Older methods of radiation also can cause heart problems.

“If you are radiated within the proximity of the heart they can develop pericardial issues, thickening of the outer lining,” said Dr. Castriz.

Oddly enough, Dr. Castriz does not think chemo or radiation caused Bondurant’s heart problem. In this case, he blames rheumatic valve disease that was unrelated to the cancer or therapy.

Now, Lisa just wants to go on with her life. “It’s just a matter of getting my strength back, my stamina back, and so on.”

Certain types of chemo increase the risk of heart attack. Fortunately, heart disease associated with chemotherapy is relatively rare. Also, some newer anti-cancer treatments, like Herceptin for breast cancer, may cause heart damage as well, although the effect is often temporary and reversible.

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