44 — Dr. Allan Cass talks with Charlotte Robinson (left), her husband, Gayland and Walker Cancer Center social worker Gail Hightower. Cats treated Charlotte Robinson for breast cancer.
60, 61, 62 — Charlotte and Gayland Robinson walk across the parking lot of the Walker Cancer Center on a recent wet morning.
Charlotte Robinson rang a 12-inch celebratory bell in the lobby of the Walker Cancer Center in Brownwood twice.
The first time, in late May of this year, was the time that counted: the 78-year-old Brownwood woman had just finished her final radiation treatment for infiltrating ductal carcinoma — a form of breast cancer.
As all cancer patients are invited to do when they finish their treatment, Robinson jiggled a lanyard to ring the bell that day, and she rang it loudly.
Last week, Robinson rang the bell a second time as she completed an interview with the Bulletin in commemoration of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is October.
“I’m one of the lucky ones,” Robinson said.
Ringing the bell is “a period at the end of a sentence,” said Dr. Allan Cass, a Walker Cancer Center radiation oncologist who treated Robinson.
Cass said he hears the ringing of the bell when he is working back in the treatment area, and he thinks “good. Another successful treatment,” Cass said.
The Walker Cancer Center is an outpatient facility owned by Brownwood Regional Medical Center.
Robinson and her husband, Gayland, have been in Brownwood since1979, and Gayland owns Shaw TV Sales and Service.
“I guess it really started last year when I had a mammogram done,” Charlotte Robinson said, explaining how her breast cancer was diagnosed. Her doctor “saw something she didn’t like,” Robinson said.
A cyst was removed from her breast, “it came back that it was cancerous,” she said. “When you hear that word, it kind of makes you knot up a little bit.”
But Robinson said she trusts in God and “knew he’d take care of me.”
Robinson and her husband are still impressed at how the medical professionals communicated with each other and followed up with each other on their findings. Robinson went on to receive 37 radiation treatments and is scheduled for a mammogram in November.
“My hope is, everything is still clear,” she said.
The Robinsons also said they’re impressed that Charlotte was able to receive all of her treatments in Brownwood. “The Walker Cancer Center is one of the friendliest, down-to-business …. they know what they’re doing and they do it,” Robinson said. “I was real impressed with the Walker Cancer Center. I feel like we’re family now.”
And the staff at the center loves their patients, Walker Cancer Center social worker Gail Hightower said. When patients ring the bell to signify their final treatment, “we all cheer and clap for them,” Hightower said.
Cass said it is “extraordinarily unusual” for the staff to have to send someone to a larger city for treatment.