Madison teacher wears costumes to cancer treatment appointments
MADISON, Wis. (WFRV) – A Madison-based sophomore teacher and now cancer survivor proves you can make the most of any situation.
Kirsty Blattner, 42, has been battling a diagnosis of recurring melanoma for years.
The melanoma, which was first detected when she was five months pregnant with her daughter, was successfully removed six years ago to return in the spring of 2021.
Again, Blattner found herself under the knife for a second operation. Like the first, the doctors managed to rule out the cancer, but this time the doctors knew they had to come up with a treatment plan to reduce the chances of the melanoma recurring for the third time.
The plan the doctors and Blattner agreed on is called immunotherapy treatment, also known as immune checkpoint blockade treatment.
“Blocking the immune checkpoints serves to put the brakes on his body’s T cells and let all the melanoma-fighting immune cells attack the residual microscopic cells, which hopefully decreases his chances of recurrence,” said the Blattner’s physician, Dr. Mark Albertini.
Albertini believes this treatment will help improve Blattner’s chances of remaining cancer-free.
“These treatments have revolutionized the care of patients with melanoma. I have been involved in the care of melanoma patients for nearly three decades now,” Dr. Albertini explained.
And while these treatments provide some light at the end of the tunnel for Blattner, it doesn’t make the process any less difficult.
Determined to put a positive spin on a scary and painful process, Blattner decided to combine her love of dressing up with her love of making people smile to create a magical experience.
Blattner and her husband, Cris Blattner, would show up to her monthly immunotherapy sessions dressed in various costumes spreading happiness to all who see them.
“Instead I think ‘poor me. I have to leave work and I have to go get this treatment and I’m going to be stuck here’ now it’s funny like ‘what are we going to wear fast, we have to get everything ready!’ So now it’s just a really positive thing and we’re looking forward to people’s reactions, smiles and people interactions,” Blattner said.
Blattner recalled that their first costume was ’80s themed and since then they’ve dressed up as pirates, cats, turkeys, grooms, with their most recent costumes featuring Daenerys Targaryen and Khal Drogo from the hit TV series Game. of Thrones.
And the Blattners aren’t the only ones thrilled with the costumes they’ll be wearing.
“We always look forward to seeing what they wear next. It’s inspiring to see a patient share this positive outlook with others,” said Kendra O’Connell, RN, nurse manager at UW Carbone.
Currently, Blattner has four more immunotherapy sessions to complete her treatment plan and while she can’t wait to finish the series, for now she’s looking forward to four more opportunities to create cool costumes and spread some joy. .