In December 2014, Rhonda, 25 years old at the time, received the shocking news that she had cervical cancer. The diagnosis shook her entire family, especially as they had lost a relative to bladder cancer only months prior...
It’s the kind of day that Albertans wait for all winter long. That first really hot, wind-free, mosquito-free day of the year that in a way officially kicks off the start of summer.
On a beach overlooking Lac la Biche, a young family builds sand castles together. Like a typical mom, Rhonda Plamondon holds a little plastic shovel dutifully in hand constructing towers and mud pies alongside her two small children. An unremarkable afternoon perhaps, but for Rhonda, days like today will always feel a little extra special because there was a time they weren’t a guarantee.
In December 2014, Rhonda, 25 years old at the time, received the shocking news that she had cervical cancer. The diagnosis shook her entire family, especially as they had lost a relative to bladder cancer only months prior.
“It was devastating,” says Rhonda. “It’s something that you never expect to hear, especially at my age. As a mom I worry about my kids, my husband, but I wasn’t thinking that my own health could be at risk. It felt like everything we were building, this wonderful life my husband Shawn and I were just starting was in jeopardy. My family means everything to me and getting back to my life with them was my priority.”
As a mom I worry about my kids, my husband, but I wasn’t thinking that my own health could be at risk.
With its $3.4 million price tag, the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation, along with a team of dedicated volunteers led by Campaign Chair Lynn Mandel, began fundraising for the robot in early 2013. Thanks to the overwhelming support from donors all across Alberta,the da Vinci Robot was funded entirely by community support and marks the first robot of its kind dedicated specifically to women’s health in the country.
The da Vinci Robotic Surgical System is a minimally invasive, ultra-precise device used for women’s health to operate on cancers of the uterus, endometrium and cervix. The benefits for patients include less pain, less bleeding, a shorter hospital stay and an overall faster recovery time.
The Royal Alexandra Hospital has been home to a da Vinci Robot since 2007. This robot, located in the main OR at the Royal Alex is used primarily for urology and some general surgery. The women’s health surgeons had access to the robot one day per week to treat gynecological cancer patients. This new robot located in the OR at the Lois Hole Hospital for Women means that more patients will have access to this type of minimally invasive surgical care.
Under the care of gynecological oncologist Dr. Helen Steed, Rhonda underwent surgery as one of the first patients treated using this new robot. “I honestly didn’t know much about the robot going in,” says Rhonda. “Dr. Steed and her team assured me that for my type of cancer, da Vinci was the way to go and I knew that I was in good hands.” Thanks to da Vinci, and the skilled surgeon at its helm, her surgery was successful and Rhonda went home the next day with very minimal pain and she recovered quickly.
Today Rhonda is cancer-free and back to her life.
“When I’m asked about the benefits of the da Vinci robot, I reference stories like Rhonda’s,” says Dr. Steed. “Women deserve to have access to the best treatment for their cancer, and they deserve to get back to their lives faster. Women deserve da Vinci and our donors deserve a thank you.”