In 28 years, Vicki Prader, Chief Therapist at Minneapolis Radiation Oncology, has treated hundreds of patients with every type of cancer.
At first glance, it might seem as though her job at MRO| St. Francis in Shakopee is all about technology: targeting imaging devices and operating state-of-the-art linear accelerators with down-to-the-millimeter accuracy and administering precise dosages. But Vicki would tell you, the connection she makes with her patients is what motivates her work.
“A cancer diagnosis is frightening. We try to do whatever we can to make patients more comfortable and make it the easiest trek for them.” she says.
One case in point is Gary Frey, a Jordan MN resident, whom Vicki helped to treat for prostate cancer. Gary was first diagnosed with prostate cancer after a routine checkup. “I was lucky my doctor caught it. I had no symptoms.” Gary said. After discussing his options with his doctor and with a cousin who was receiving radiation treatment, the MRO Radiation Therapy Center at the St. Francis Cancer Center was the best choice.
Vicki saw Gary through 28 treatments, and the two hit it off from the start. She calls him, a “perfect patient. “She says, “Gary is likeable and easygoing. A superb guy”.
Gary was impressed by Vicki’s technical expertise as well as her compassion.
“The way she and her staff were able to handle that machine was unbelievable. They were great.” For him, it made the treatment an easy routine; the treatment center was close to home, and Gary mentions there were no big interruptions in his day-to-day life.
For many patients like Gary, the ability to get treated and get on with life is a big factor in managing the disease. As Vicki notes, “So much in their world is upside-down, and we have the opportunity to be soothing confidant through their daily treatments.”
Gary agrees that his connection with his care team made a difference. “I was able to talk, laugh and make friends with some of the other patients who were going through the same thing”.
Treatment-by-treatment, Gary’s confidence grew, bolstered by great support
from his wife and sons.
Over the last 30 years, Vicki has experienced the changes in technology and medicine with better diagnostic tools, better outlooks, and fewer side effects. What hasn’t changed is the need to help patients turn their fear into confidence. And, of course, the satisfaction of hearing patients like Gary saying, “I’m cancer free.”