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My Story

Carol | age 72
Community Association Manager
Casselberry, FL
11 years, 1 month since her MammoSite treatment.
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UPDATE-AS OF FEB 2011 - It is now 3 yrs since diagnosis and almost 3 yrs since surgery and Mammosite Rx.....Feeling great! I have a small seroma that persists below my incision and every once in awhile, my breas aches....right in the seroma area....I use heat and Ibroprohen and it goes away....

My story: After several years of "slightly abnormal" mammograms that necessitated ultrasound testing and subsequent "negative findings", my mammo rpt turned up in Sept 2007 with "microcalcifications"...one area of the report said "no suspicous findings" and the summary recommended a biopsy. The Radiologist did an ultrasound and recommended the biopsy. After spending the weekend reading up on microcalcifications, I discussed the equivocal report with my primary care doc and decided to wait 6 months. I have a younger sister who has been through the same kinds of reports and had a negative biopsy.

In early Feb 2008 I had the repeat mammo and the ultrasound test. The Radiologist this time came in to tell me I had breast cancer and he wanted to do the biopsy as soon as I could schedule it. Since I had already made an appt with my primary care doc to review these possible results, I did more reading up on DCIS over the weekend and pulled a list of potential surgeons off my insurance web site in prep for my visit the following Wed.

On Wed, I reviewed the results with the doc and selected a surgeon...someone she knew and whose bio I had read online. I called that same day and made an appt. a few weeks hence. I had learned enough from reading and researching that I did NOT have to rush to surgery...I really wanted to wrap my head around my diagnosis, figure out when and what to tell my family and visit with the radiation doc before making up my mind about the amount of surgery I would have done.

My visit with Dr. Sachedina was very reassuring....I was given all the info I had already read over and advised her I did not want whole breast radiation, feeling a lumpectomy fit my tumor site and size...she agreed and set me up for a consult with the radiation oncologist while her staff began the surgery scheduling process.

I also had a CT scan and some blood work done as part of my workup. My previous spinal fusions both cervical and lumbar with hardware prevent me from having an MRI which is the usual radiological workup to determine if there is any metastasis. Both tests came back clean, so on my next visit to complete surgical planning, we discussed lymph node resection and I opted NOT to have any lymph nodes removed...I have a torn rotator cuff on the left side so if I had any lymph problems post op, the ortho doc would decline to fix my shoulder.

During the Radiation Oncology consult, we agreed I was a good candidate for mammosite therapy...next step surgery on a Thursday morning...I was home Thursday night and had very little discomfort...ice and acetominophen...and I was back in the gym on Saturday - just for cardio, but it felt wonderful to start getting the anesthesia out of my system....

On the following Tuesday, I saw Dr. Sachedina again who reported the anterior margin of the resected tissue wasn't clean of tumor...so my options were whole breast radiation or another surgery...I opted for the addt'l surgery and 2 days later I was back in the OR. Again, I was home that night and OK with ice and acetominophen....back in the gym on Saturday.

On 4/15 I got the good news the addt'l tissue had clean margins....I came back to see Dr. S 2 days later for the mammosite catheter implantation....minimal discomfort - more ache than pain....but I took some OTC pain killers and worked all afternoon and went to a board meeting that night..

I saw the radiation oncologist 1 day later for my first CT to confirm location of the balloon and do the simulation of the procedure...all the staff at the center were wonderful....the following Monday I started therapy...twice a day for 5 days....I drove over 100 miles each day between home, center, work, center and home again, but I felt fine so why not...I even went to the gym 4 of the 5 days of therapy....

The interviews I read before treatment and a couple of emails I exchanged with one of the volunteers made me confident that I could continue working through therapy. I have opted not to share my health issues with co-workers and have limited this experience to my immediate family, my best friend and my personal trainer. Other women may find it helpful to join support groups and seek more support from co-workers, but I have been close to 5 women in my life time who have had breast cancer...so I am very familiar with the effects of the "breast cancer" label and in my experience, it wasn't all good. When I do get to a point where I am comfortable sharing this experience with co-workers, I can and will tell them that "I not only beat cancer, but I kicked it to the curb in less than 30 days." Just think about how fast this experience was OVER...surgery 4/3/08 and 4/10/08; catheter placement 4/16; mammosite rx from 4/21 thru 4/25 and catheter removal the last day....I celebrated the end of treatment with an hour of cardio in the gym!!!

Of all the supportive material I read, Dr. John Link's book was the best...he basically tells you in the last chapter to go back to living after your treatment is over and "forget about it"....that works for me! Each shower I take is a "shower of health" washing over me and each Evista tablet helps protect my bones...and perhaps keeps away the recurrent breast cancer.

With Mammosite Radiation Rx, you can do just that....the catheter is not uncomfortable...it wraps around under your arm and is supported with a bit of paper tape...and your bra. I was able to bandage the catheter area each morning and night although the nurse at the Rad Center likes to check it daily...they were too pokey in the office for my busy schedule...I had a chance to discuss the equipment with the radiation physicist so if you are interested in this technology, tell the staff...they are happy to talk about something besides cancer....

Oh, one more thing....be positive....I have decided this experience is NOT AS BAD as the osteoarthritis that plagues my body or the other ailments of aging...

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This profile is solely the words of the person who received MammoSite Targeted Radiation Therapy to treat breast cancer. Note that this profile is specific to this particular person, and experiences will vary.