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'There Are No Egos Involved': Rare Cancer Removed By Rare, All-Female Surgical Team

DENVER (CBS4)- A nurse and mother needed complex surgery to remove a rare bone cancer in her leg. By chance, she ended up with a rare surgical team at Presbyterian/St. Luke's Medical Center (PSL), a team of all women.

"The type of tumor I have is unique in that it's a slow-growing bone cancer," explained Meredith Thompson.

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(credit: CBS)

She was diagnosed with osteosarcoma at age 20. The tumor was removed and her leg reconstructed.

At 40 and a new mother, the cancer returned. Dr. Cynthia Kelly, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in orthopedic oncology with Colorado Limb Consultants, operated at PSL. Three years later, in January 2020, Dr. Kelly delivered bad news, again.

"She had yet another recurrence of the tumor," Kelly told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.

This time, because the tumor was wrapped around the artery and vein, Dr. Barbara Melendez, a vascular surgeon with Vascular Institute of the Rockies, would also operate. Two female surgeons on a case is rare. This was an ALL female surgical team.

"Even 5 to 10 years ago, this would have not been possible," said Melendez.

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(credit: Meredith Thompson)

It was a first for PSL and special for the doctors.

"I think it's a fun, nurturing environment," said Kelly.

"In general, female surgeons are more helpful," said Melendez with a smile.

"There are no egos involved. We just get in there and do the work," said Kelly.

For Meredith it was reassuring, "For them to be in that position, they would have to be outstanding."

She called her treatment comforting.

"Like human, not just a patient," said Meredith.

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(credit: Presbyterian/St. Luke's Medical Center)

Doctors Kelly and Melendez encourage young women and young men with a passion to become surgeons. Compassion is encouraged, as well.

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