Barbara Jaeckel, a Setauket resident who takes pride in her community and teaching classes at her local church, had her life turned upside down when she received news no one wants to hear – she had cancer.

In 2017 at an appointment with her cardiologist for a calcium score, her doctor noticed she had a lesion on her lung. She was advised to consult with a pulmonologist. Barbara then met with pulmonologist Dr. Yuval Hiltzik, who diagnosed her with lung cancer.

Barbara underwent a lobectomy on her right upper lobe, which involves removing the entire lobe of the lung. She also had a wedge resection, removing the cancer, on the right lower lobe of her lung. While monitoring the efficiency of her surgeries, she was told in the fall of 2018 that another lesion appeared on her left upper lobe.

With the new lesion on her lung, her team of doctors recommended another lobectomy. However, Barbara had concerns. “How many lobes can a person lose? What will happen to my quality of life?” Barbara questioned.

At this point, Barbara took matters into her own hands and investigated a treatment option she heard of called CyberKnife. This non-invasive treatment is a robotic radiotherapy device that can treat cancerous and non-cancerous tumors and other conditions.

Barbara took this information and presented it to her doctors, who decided to present her case to the Tumor Board at Mather Hospital for a final decision. A Tumor Board consists of a group of physicians and specialists who meet to discuss complex cases such as Barbara’s and decide on the best approach for treatment. The Tumor Board agreed that CyberKnife would be a good solution for her.

Barbara began her CyberKnife treatments in December 2018 at Percision CyberKnife of New York . Her treatments were for five days, 30 minutes per session. Besides a little fatigue, Barbara experienced no side effects.

Just two days after her final  treatment she was on an airplane going to visit family for Christmas. “It was a miracle compared to the recovery process after having a lobectomy,” Barbara said. In fact, she stayed active by walking three and a half miles a day. She even went back to teaching her classes the same evening of her first CyberKnife treatment.

Throughout 2019 Barbara went for check-ups every three months to monitor her health. At the end of 2019 it was determined that besides some inflammation, her treatment had been effective and took care of the lesions.

Unfortunately, in December of 2022 another lesion showed up in her right lower lobe. “Without a second thought I knew I had to go back to CyberKnife,” Barbara said. In February 2023 she went for her second round of CyberKnife treatments with radiation oncologist Dr. Joseph Cirrone.

“I consider CyberKnife to be a miracle. I’m so grateful for the technology and the kind staff at Precision CyberKnife. The staff really understands what you’re going through,” she said.

Barbara recalled that during her treatment sessions the staff would ask what kind of music she wanted to listen to. One day, one of the technicians handed Barbara a sticky note with a list of artists whose music was similar to the music she liked. “I still have that sticky note in my kitchen drawer as a memory of him…I think about him often,” she said. “About five of the artists he wrote down are now some of my favorite musicians. Music means a lot to be me, I’ve been playing the piano since I was little.”

Since her last treatment in February 2023, Barbara has done well and continues to go for check-ups. She said she’s glad she made the decision to go through with CyberKnife. “This treatment turns what is a horrible situation into a wonderful situation and preserves your quality of life,” Barbara said.