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Andrea Hicks – da Vinci Hysterectomy and Ovary Removal Success Story

Andrea Hicks chose da Vinci hysterectomy and ovary removal to take steps to prevent cancer

Andrea HicksSisters Andrea Hicks and Alicia "Nickie" Bradley have a lot in common. They both exercise regularly, sing in the church choir, and work in education.

But there's one thing the sisters don't want to have in common: cancer.

In December 2009, Bradley was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer, and Hicks had to watch her big sister and best friend, then only 36 years old, fight for her life.

"I think because she saw me suffer so much, she decided, 'I don't want to go through that. Whatever prevention I can take, I will,'" Bradley says.

Bradley had learned through gene analysis that she was a carrier of the BRCA2 gene, which greatly increases a woman's risk for breast and ovarian cancers. Hicks chose to take the test as well, especially considering her history of fibroid tumors and family history of cancer.

The test came back positive, and with the help of a team of independently practicing physicians on the medical staff at Methodist Dallas Medical Center, including her OB-GYN of 14 years, Don Blair II, MD, FACOG, Hicks began taking steps to save her own life, to be around for her husband and two children.

Something else in common

Andrea Hicks and her sisterAmong those steps to stop cancer before it could start were a hysterectomy and an oophorectomy (ovary removal) in December 2011 with the da Vinci® Surgical System.

"Because my sister had the same surgery with the robot, I was able to see how fast she got back to work," Hicks says. "She was up the next day and said it was so easy. And Dr. Blair had assured me that the recovery would be fast and not as long as with a normal hysterectomy.

"Even the scarring was minimal: only four little circles instead of a cut going down. They're just cute little circles."

The da Vinci difference

Dr. Blair says the da Vinci robot's advantages for the surgeon are also worth noting.

In robotic surgery, the surgeon works from a console a few feet from the operating table. A monitor depicts high-definition images of the patient's body, and the surgeon uses hand controls to manipulate the narrow, flexible arms of the robot to perform incredibly controlled movements in real time.

"This is why there is less pain for the patients because you're able to be more precise," Dr. Blair says. "And the high-definition images allow you to see the tissue a lot more clearly than you would with traditional laparoscopy."

A bright future

With the robotic hysterectomy behind her, Hicks has no regrets. "I wouldn't have had it any other way," she says.

Her big sister is glad. "My sister may not ever have been diagnosed with cancer, but it's a relief to know that now that she's done this surgery, hopefully, she has a 99.9 percent chance that she'll never have to go through that," Bradley says.

From the summer 2012 edition of Shine magazine.