Sissy Price is a Radiation Therapist at Carolina Regional Cancer Center in Myrtle Beach, SC. Local magazine Sasee named her a 2016 Everyday Hero as a result of her dedication to patient care.
Below is the story as it appears on the Sasee magazine website.
Butterflies and Birds: Patricia “Sissy” Price, Radiation Therapist
By Leslie Moore
Everyday heroes are all around us, serving and helping with little fanfare. One such hero is Sissy Price, a bright spot of hope for cancer patients who come to her for treatment. “This work is what I was meant to do,” said Sissy, a Radiation Therapist at Carolina Regional Cancer Center in Myrtle Beach. Kind and empathetic, Sissy has worked at the center for 36 years, since the facility opened in 1980, helping thousands of patients and their families.
A native of North Myrtle Beach, Sissy began her career as an X-Ray technician, working at McLeod Regional Hospital in Florence. She knew she wanted to advance her career by training to be either an ultrasound or radiation therapist, but when she saw her uncle die of cancer, she knew how she wanted to spend the rest of her working career.
“I received my training at the University of Virginia and went back to work at McLeod in their cancer center,” Sissy began. “The doctors I worked with in Florence, along with several doctors from MUSC, felt there was a need for a cancer center in the Grand Strand area. They went to the hospitals, but at the time, they weren’t interested.” The group of determined doctors decided to build the center on their own and opened Carolina Regional Cancer Center in 1980. Sissy wanted to move back to her North Myrtle Beach home and asked to transfer to the new facility. “When we opened, we only had two staff members, me and a receptionist,” she remembers.
The center kept growing. In the early years, Sissy would see an average of 7-10 patients a day. Now, Carolina Regional Cancer Center generally treats between 95-120 patients daily. A satellite office in Conway has recently opened, giving cancer patients in that area another option for treatment. I asked Sissy why she thought there were so many more patients getting radiation therapy now. “The population has increased, of course, but people are being diagnosed earlier now as well. We routinely treat approximately 50% of all cancers diagnosed in our area.”
“Radiation therapy has come a long way,” Sissy told me. “With early detection, and better technology, we can pinpoint treatment to the cancerous tissue and minimize side effects.” She uses intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), an advanced mode of radiotherapy that can pinpoint and deliver precise radiation to the affected area. “Years ago, people were ashamed to have cancer,” said Sissy. “Many times, by the time I saw them, the cancer was very advanced. I would see women with breast cancer come in with their breast eaten away with disease.” Sissy went on to explain that today’s breast cancer patients do very well, mostly due to early diagnostics such as mammograms and ultrasounds. “With IMRT, healthy tissue is spared.”
When Sissy’s sister was diagnosed with breast cancer, it changed not only her personal life, but her professional life as well. “I was always empathic to the patient and would spend as much time as needed to explain everything to them,” Sissy began. “But after my sister was diagnosed, I really saw what families go through. My sister went into remission for eleven years before the cancer returned, and she was able to see her daughters grow up and even the first birthday of her grandson.”
Click here to continue reading the story on Sasee's website.