New robotic surgery making some procedures easier

Each year thousands of women undergo hysterectomies for a number of reasons, but one South Bend woman felt having the operation could mean the difference between life and death.

A technology, first developed so doctors on earth could perform surgery on astronauts aboard the space station, has now made its way to operating rooms.

Now, its use here in Michiana might give a local cancer survivor the peace of mind she is looking for in the New Year.

Monica Hoban is a wife and mother of four, and she is at Memorial Hospital having a hysterectomy.

Still major surgery for some, Monica is undergoing a minimally invasive procedure performed robotically, with technology developed for space.

While the operation will be much easier than traditional surgery, the reason Monica, who is not yet in menopause, is having the elective procedure, is for peace of mind.

Monica Hoban is a breast cancer survivor. She said, ”I'm the oldest woman in my family with a uterus. So, I don't know if the cancer gene that's causing my cancer causes other cancers down there too.”

Monica knows a lot about cancer. Just a little over a year ago at this time, she and her family got terrifying news after a routine mammogram.

Monica Hoban explains what the biopsy showed. “The biopsy showed that I had three tumors, four different kinds of cancers. So, I had to have a mastectomy. One of my cancers is estrogen fed. I've been through reconstruction. So, this is my fourth surgery in 12 months.”

She's also been through chemo. Monica, along with her husband Maury, who still have three of their four children at home, decided they didn't want to worry about ovarian or uterine cancer.

Hoban explains her thoughts on where the cancer came from. “I don't know what's causing the breast cancer. There's a high prevalence in my family. Every female in my family, except my one sister has had it. So, they're certain it's genetically linked.”

She is excited that her surgeon is performing laparoscopic robotic surgery.

Hoban said, “I know two people who have recently had this done. So, thumbs up all the way. I am ready.”

With her sister and husband at her side, Hoban is ready to put 2011 behind her.

Maury Hoban said of his wife, “I love her dearly, and I hope this is the end of her problems. Last year at this time, before her surgery, she said she just wanted to go to Brazil and escape and hide from it. So, maybe in the next couple of years we'll figure out a way to go.”

Her surgeon Dr. Method explained how the robotic hysterectomy works. “Five little ports, or incisions in the abdomen, and then we actually sit on a console and kind of do the surgery away from the patient. Actually, the robot actually does all the surgery," Dr. Method said.

With a kiss from Maury and her sister, Monica was ready for surgery.

Hoban gives her hopes for 2012, saying, “It's all mine. Watch out. I want to travel, and I just want to put it behind me.”

Part two of this series will air on WNDU Friday, just before 6 p.m.

Maureen McFadden will take you into surgery at Memorial and show you how the robot, and a doctor sitting at a console on the other side of the room, perform this surgery.

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