More than a cancer survivor; she sets an example for others

A few years ago, Maura Bivens was living her life as a wife and mother when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“I was so shocked when I was diagnosed the first time at 38 years old,” Bivens recalled. “My family has no history of breast cancer, I didn’t smoke, and I was fit and active. When I first heard the news I completely shut down. My mind just turned off. Luckily, my husband was with me and he was able to take in all the information and start processing how to start the long journey that is cancer.

They got a second opinion out of state and were told that Bivens could get the exact same treatment in Las Vegas. “That was great news because I knew I loved my local oncologist at Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada, Dr. Heather Allen, so it was a relief to have that reinforced,” Bivens said. “I also had three young children at the time and I wanted to stay close to home to be near them.”

She had a double mastectomy and explained, “It was such unchartered territory. I relied so heavily on Dr. Allen and my husband. I had to educate myself to make the decisions that only I could make for myself. I had to look at the statistics and facts, no matter how disturbing they might have been at the time.”

Thinking she was in the clear after this treatment, in 2009 the cancer returned and metastasized to her lungs. Her prognosis was about 12 months to live and Bivens was devastated.

“I had triple negative breast cancer, which is one of the more aggressive forms of breast cancer, but I was still shocked when it came back. The doctors said they got it all and I was done, and I absolutely believed it. I didn’t look back and didn’t really want to get involved in survivor stuff. I didn’t consider it ever coming back, so I was beyond shocked when it came back in my lungs.”

But new treatments had been developed and Bivens was told she was a candidate for CyberKnife. “I was so unsure of the procedure, but I trusted my doctors and I decided to give it a try. I had three days of CyberKnife treatment and I was done. I was back training for black belt in no time and I felt great.”

The robotic technology of CyberKnife offers patients with tumors a painless, non-invasive surgical alternative that requires no anesthesia and offers shorter recovery times.

Bivens is now in remission and at this point, there is no sign of cancer in her system. She still visits CCCN for regular checkups and recently celebrated a birthday, something she is grateful for every day. She volunteers, supports others and is very active in her church and with her family.

“I always tell people that I think the hardest part is when you get that call that you have cancer, but you don’t know any of the details. That is torture! How bad is it, what do we need to do, am I going to make it? And the answer is, ‘We don’t know, we need more tests.’ That is the tough part, but I will say that we do have great doctors here. I loved my doctors, nurses and staff and I received great care at Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada. I really felt like they were pulling for me.”

Bivens truly personifies a Fearless Female.

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