Armenian Doctor Successfully Treats Advanced Ovarian Cancer in an 82 Year-Old Woman in CT
Doctor Vaagn Andikyan of Armenian decent, attributes the successful treatment and good prognosis to the delivery of high quality, compassionate care, and team-based collaboration by cancer care experts at the Danbury Hospital.
By Amy Forni, Manager - Western Connecticut Health Network
Mary Bonomo, an 82-year-old resident of Bethel, Connecticut, spent the day after Christmas last year in an emergency department with shortness of breath. On New Year’s Eve 2016, she learned that cancer cells had migrated from her ovaries to her lungs. She was diagnosed with stage IV ovarian cancer. Mrs. Bonomo will celebrate this holiday season cancer-free thanks to the excellent care she received at Danbury Hospital.
Mrs. Bonomo was diagnosed while visiting her daughter in Maryland. She chose Danbury Hospital to manage her cancer when she returned home. She consulted with Vaagn Andikyan, MD, a Western Connecticut Health Network (WCHN) gynecological oncologist who practices at Danbury and Norwalk hospitals. Dr. Andikyan and a team of cancer experts from the Praxair Cancer Center at Danbury Hospital, including medical oncologist Wenli Gao, MD, recommended an intense treatment plan: systemic chemotherapy to reduce the cancerous tumors before undergoing major debulking surgery, followed by post-op chemotherapy.
According to the American Cancer Society, about half of the women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer are 63 years or older. The American Cancer Society also estimates that a woman’s risk of getting ovarian cancer during her lifetime is about 1 in 75, and her lifetime chance of dying from ovarian cancer is about 1 in 100.
Mrs. Bonomo was one of the few patients over 80 years old to be treated for advanced ovarian cancer at Danbury Hospital in 2017.
Despite her age, Dr. Andikyan was optimistic that Mrs. Bonomo would respond well to the treatment plan because of her mindset and her support system, including her husband of 58 years, three children, nine grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
“Not all 80 year olds are the same. Mrs. Bonomo was very mobile and had a good support system. She wanted to fight the cancer and we supported her. We took good care of her in an expeditious fashion,” said Dr. Andikyan.
“Dr. Andikyan was very confident. He helped me feel like I had a chance to have a positive outcome. I felt better after I left his office. I felt hopeful. I am very grateful and blessed for that,” said Mrs. Bonomo.
Mrs. Bonomo had her initial chemotherapy January–July 2017 at the Praxair Cancer Center at Danbury Hospital. “The nurses kept it fun. They helped take something that was rather unpleasant and make it a whole lot better. They were wonderful and kept my spirits up throughout the process,” she said. She had successful, major debulking surgery on July 21, 2017, and finished post-op chemotherapy in November. Mrs. Bonomo, an enthusiastic painter, is back to her normal life.
“The services I received from my doctors and nurses at Danbury Hospital and the Praxair Cancer Center are top of the line and changed my life. I am very thankful,” she said.
Dr. Andikyan attributes Mrs. Bonomo’s successful treatment and good prognosis to teamwork and the exceptional, safe, advanced care Danbury Hospital delivers.
“WCHN is a unique organization. We practice academic medicine with the personal touch of a private hospital. Our patients have access to a committed team of medical oncologists, radiologists, nurses, patient navigators, genetic counselors, social workers, and many more specialists, and we collaborate very well together. We deliver compassionate, high quality care to our patients within their community, which can improve their outcome. The support of family and friends helps our patients to heal,” said Dr. Andikyan.
Dr. Andikyan completed a fellowship in gynecologic oncology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, and a Pelvic Reconstruction fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He is certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology.