GREENFIELD — Hours after surgery to remove a cancerous lump from her right breast, Bette Towle was home, resting but alert.
Towle, 70, had a lumpectomy at Hancock Regional Hospital Wednesday, less than two weeks after learning she had breast cancer.
“To say, ‘I have cancer,’ it’s really a strange feeling,” Towle said.
An instructional assistant for first graders at Harris Elementary, Towle said it all happened very fast, but she wanted to have the surgery done while the students were on fall break so she wouldn’t have to take any days off from the job she loves.
On Wednesday, Towle was feeling good – thanks in large part to her surgeon, Timothy Goedde.
Goedde, a renowned breast cancer surgeon, has been a pioneer in the field since opening his Indianapolis practice 20 years ago. Focusing on state-of-the-art techniques, Goedde works with women from beginning to end, doing consultations, biopsies, surgeries and follow-up treatments. He’s developed new, minimally invasive biopsy techniques and even started a business in 2000 that was bought six years later by Hologic, a world leader in developing and manufacturing diagnostic products for mammography and breast biopsy.
With a reputation like Goedde’s, it’s no surprise that he drew clients from across the region, including many from Hancock County.
For years, patients like Pansy Burns would drive to Goedde’s office on the east side of Indianapolis for consultation, treatment and follow-ups. Burns has driven into Indianapolis for follow-up appointments every six months since her surgery to remove breast cancer in 2000.
Next month, though, she won’t have to.
Goedde will open a second office Nov. 6 in the Hancock Professional Center. The office will be open one day a week – the other four will still be spent in his Indianapolis office – allowing Goedde to be closer to patients in Hancock County and surrounding areas.
And those patients are quite excited.
“I’ve been telling him (to move here) for years,” Burns said.
Burns was referred to Goedde by a friend in 2000, after finding a lump in her left breast during a self-exam. He’s been by her side ever since, something for which Burns can’t say enough good things.
“He becomes your personal, joined-at-the-hip, friend,” Burns said. “He takes your pain, takes it in internally and tries to fix it.
“There’s Jesus Christ and then there’s Dr. Goedde.”
Though Goedde already has a fair number of patients in the area, thanks in large part to word-of-mouth referrals from patients like Burns and doctors in the area, he also hopes the move will allow him to grow his practice and reach a more regional audience, including women in Rush, Shelby and Henry counties. He’ll work in tandem with Hancock Regional Hospital and physicians in the James T. Anderson Center for Women’s Health.
“It’s a great hospital, a great breast center,” said Goedde, who has had a long relationship with HRH.
“The Greenfield area is growing and I want to grow,” Goedde said. “I want to see people in surrounding areas – anywhere that’s closer to here than Indianapolis.”
There should be no shortage of patients. Breast cancer is one of the most commonly occurring cancers, accounting for nearly 1 in 3 cancers diagnosed in American women, according to the American Cancer Society. Nearly 300,000 new cases are diagnosed each year and more than 2.5 million U.S. women living today have a history of breast cancer.
For those women affected locally, Goedde’s move will make a dramatic difference. Towle was one of Goedde’s first local surgeries – a huge comfort to Towle and her family.
Towle’s husband and four children were able to be by her side before and after surgery. If the surgery had been in Indianapolis, it would have been more difficult on her three children, who live and work in Greenfield, to be there.
“To have it close by home was so much better,” Towle said. “Having (family) there was a real blessing to me.”
But it’s not just the location that made Towle more comfortable. It was also Goedde himself, she said. From the first consultation to the phone call she received from him hours after the surgery, Towle said Goedde made her feel comfortable and even hopeful about her odds.
“He (Goedde) was the reason for my comfortableness,” Towle said. “He made me feel – not that I’m special – but that his patients are special. I feel very comfortable that my surgery will be a positive outcome.”
Towle never misses an annual mammogram and does regular self examinations, so her cancer was caught early. She’s waiting on biopsy results to see if the cancer has spread, but she and Goedde are optimistic about her making a full recovery.
Goedde’s move into Greenfield will also make things easier on people like Burns. At 72, Burns said she and her husband don’t feel comfortable driving on the highway anymore, so they take back roads into Indianapolis for her twice-annual check ups.
Goedde’s new office will be just blocks from Burns’ home.
“I just can’t wait; I will be within walking distance of his office,” she said. “There are tons of us all over Hancock County that he is very important to, and now he’ll be just right around the corner.”