The dark spot on her face kept getting bigger. Despite many dermatological procedures to remove it over the years, the spot on Cathy Riggs' face kept growing. In May 2010, biopsies showed a malignancy.
"I was so worried about its rapid growth, it had doubled in size in four weeks," said Riggs, a 16-year Los Angeles Police Department veteran. "If I had waited another four to six weeks, I was worried they would have to take half my face off."
Fully aware of the urgency and risks associated with even a day's delay, the cancer team at Henry Mayo immediately jumped into action. Staff surgeons Dr. Gregory Senofsky, Dr. Peter Ashjian and Dr. David Sadaat cleared their personal schedules on a weekend to operate on Riggs' tumor.
"Cathy's melanoma was one of the largest I'd ever removed. We had to dissect out all her nerves, it was so deep," Senofsky said of the nine-hour surgery. "That level of care is as advanced as you can get. I think it's notable to do a case of that magnitude in a community hospital. It went perfectly."
"Cathy's result was outstanding. We had all the tools and equipment, and we had the people with the proper training who were committed to obtaining quality results," Ashjian said.
After surgery, Riggs received good news: the margins were clear on the tissue the surgeons had removed, as were the lymph nodes.
"What many people don't know is that for melanoma, head and neck, and breast cancer, Henry Mayo's cancer program is on par with some of the leading hospitals around the country," said John Barstis, MD, oncology medical director at Henry Mayo. "In fact, our physicians, whose work is regularly publised in medical journals, are among the most highly respected cancer specialists in their fields."
"I definitely recommend Henry Mayo Hospital and the physicians to my family and friends," added Riggs. "Because of them, I will watch my daughter grow up."