Robotic Surgery Allows Cancer Victim to Care for Mom


Facing the choice of caring for either her mother or herself, Katy Alexander of Oceanside was willing to make the potentially fatal choice to reject surgery to remove her cancerous kidney. Her surgeon had recommended removing her entire kidney and possibly bladder to ensure the complete removal of the malignant tumor but that meant several weeks or even months of recovery.

Not willing to abandon caring for her aging mother but realizing the risks of waiting for surgery could have fatal consequences, she went for a second opinion. The second doctor also recommended removal of the entire kidney. Looking for a better solution, Katy sought out a third surgeon who reviewed her medical records and suggested she consult Dr. Julian Anthony, a Urologic Oncologist with Palomar Health.

Her persistence paid off as Dr. Anthony provided her with the solution she had been looking for: removal of the malignant tumor with the expectation to continue caring for her mother.

Dr. Anthony proposed removing the malignant tumor without removing the entire kidney through a minimally invasive surgical procedure requiring only five small incisions in Katy’s torso utilizing robotic equipment. The laparoscopic surgery leads to less bleeding, scaring and complications.

“The robot gives me increased dexterity over using my own hands and combined with an ultrasound, I have improved visualization of the tumor allowing me to perform more precise and complex surgeries compared to more traditional surgeries,” Dr. Anthony said.

He has been performing robotic surgeries since 2008 using the da Vinci surgical system. The system is controlled by Dr. Anthony sitting at a console manipulating robotic arms. Safety features are designed to minimize human errors.

“It was a relief because I can get this done now…I can get back on my feet and get on with my life,” Katy said remembering how she felt while consulting with Dr. Anthony.

She said his demeanor and personality were comforting as she considered her options. She said he was supportive of whatever decision she made. She decided to move forward with the partial removal surgery at Palomar Medical Center Escondido in September 2015.

The robotic procedure not only allowed Katy to keep most of her kidney, but it also meant she had a quick recovery. She was only in the hospital about 24 hours.

“I was out so fast I didn’t even get to eat the lunch I ordered,” Katy said.

Returning home the next day she said she felt so good she even sent her cousins home early who had come to care for her mother while she was in the hospital, so they could beat rush hour traffic. Katy says she never felt any pain and was back to caring for her mom the same week and went back to work in three weeks.

Three years later, Katy has never been healthier and continues to work in administration and sales. She says she’s thankful Dr. Anthony made it possible for her to take care of both her mother and herself and still thinks about that hospital lunch that went uneaten.

Palomar Health has been performing robotic surgery since 2007, longer than any other medical facility in the community and was the first to use the da Vinci surgical system. To learn more about the use of robotic surgery please visit our website at

Photo Caption: The da Vinci robot allows Dr. Julian Anthony to perform complicated minimally invasive surgeries not possible using traditional surgical methods. 

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