The Da Vinci Surgical Robot: Antonina’s Story


September 1, 2021

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Ovarian cancer is the most fatal gynaecological cancer in the country. This month, we want to introduce you to Antonina and her story of getting a preventative hysterectomy at Humber River Hospital.

Antonina knew her whole life that her family has a history of ovarian cancer and it was a real possibility she could get cancer too.

Antonina with her son.

My own mom passed away from ovarian cancer when she was only 41,” says Antonina. “I was terrified my son would go through what I went through with my mom. I couldn’t do that to him.”

“I didn’t have an opportunity to know my grandma – she passed away from ovarian cancer at 46 years old. My own mom passed away from ovarian cancer when she was only 41,” says Antonina. “I was terrified my son would go through what I went through with my mom. I couldn’t do that to him.”

Antonina regularly saw a gynaecologist to ensure she was getting the appropriate medical care to screen for ovarian cancer. But in the back of her mind, it was causing her a lot of anxiety to know her health could change for the worst at any time.

“I’m 36 years old and once my husband and I decided we weren’t having more kids, I knew preventatively that a hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy was the best path forward. I didn’t want to constantly worry anymore. It was time to take my life back into my own hands.”

Her gynaecologist referred Antonina to Humber specifically because he believed she would be a good candidate to receive her preventative surgery via the da Vinci Surgical Robot. The da Vinci could perform the procedure with only a few small incisions and the recovery time would be much quicker than a traditional hysterectomy.

Before her procedure with da Vinci, Antonina had to undergo bariatric surgery to help manage her weight. Dr. David Starr, Dr. Stephen Glazer, and staff at the bariatric clinic ensured that process went smoothly. Antonina healed quickly and was scheduled for her robotic hysterectomy soon after.

When surgery day came, Antonina remembers being very anxious. “Due to COVID restrictions, my husband couldn’t come inside with me, but my surgeon Dr. André LaRoche, made sure I was comfortable from the moment I stepped foot into the Hospital. The staff were all so great at making me feel at ease.”

Antonina

“I feel a huge sense of relief. The anxiety of waiting and not knowing if I have ovarian cancer was exhausting. I’m so fortunate to have gone through this with a great care team at Humber.”

Her robotic hysterectomy went well and Antonina was able to start walking up and down the hospital hallway that same evening.

At her post-surgery check-up, Dr. LaRoche informed Antonina that her pathology report came back clear and that she is cancer free.

“I feel a huge sense of relief. The anxiety of waiting and not knowing if I have ovarian cancer was exhausting. I’m so fortunate to have gone through this with a great care team at Humber. I always felt like I was the most important person and that my needs were the most important thing to my doctors. I’m now excited to shed the worry and anxiety that has consumed me and move forward with my life.”

The da Vinci Surgical Robot is the centerpiece of the Murphy and Helen Hull Robotics Centre at Humber River Hospital. The Centre was established thanks to a transformational donation from Helen Hull and her late husband, Murphy Hull.