Fort Wayne turns the town pink and continues to spearhead cancer research

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Lutheran Health Network and Vera Bradley are turning the town pink. Pink ribbons are flying at the three Lutheran hospital campuses around town. Soon, you’ll see some around the whole city. The annual event hopes to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research

Cancer research, and specifically breast cancer research, is being done across the world. Every year the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer sends 100% of its proceeds to the Vera Bradley Research Lab in Indianapolis. But just a couple hours north, here in Fort Wayne, researchers are gaining momentum.

“There is a lot of really exciting research being done locally,” Lutheran Health Network Breast Oncologist Dr. Rachel Hayes said.

Hayes is leading a lot of the research at Lutheran Health Network. Doctors there are spearheading original research and partnering on national studies.

“The more emphasis we put on taking care of women with breast cancer the better we get at it, and that’s what they deserve,” Hayes said.

Dr. Hayes brought intra-operative radiation therapy to Lutheran. It’s an outpatient surgery that removes a tumor then blasts the affected area of the breast with radiation. It’s an alternative to doing three to six weeks of radiation every day.

She’s also currently looking at ways to pinpoint breast lesions. Right now the common method is localizing them by putting a wire in the breast before surgery.

“One of the really exciting things that’s happening is trying to change the way we localize lesions in the breast,” Hayes said. “So ladies don’t have to undergo a second procedure with a wire localization prior to going to the operation room.”

“We are seeing a lot more survivors in the world and that has a lot to do with research,” Vera Bradley Foundation Executive Director Linda Houk said. “Learning more about what breast cancer is and how to attack it.”

No matter where the research is done it’s affecting the lives of all cancer patients.

“It doesn’t just help patients in Fort Wayne just like the Indianapolis research doesn’t just help patients in Indianapolis,” Hayes said. “As we have new and exciting discoveries we can share that with everyone.”

Doctors at Parkview’s Comprehensive Cancer Center are also doing research. No one there was able to speak to NewsChannel 15 on camera, but they said 80 oncology-related studies are being done there. The center is also participating in clinical trials relating to 13 different cancers including breast cancer.