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My Story

Joanne | age 64
Small Business Owner
Whitefield, NH
13 years, 10 months since her MammoSite treatment.

When I had my annual mammogram in June of 2005, it never occurred to me there would be a problem. Of all the issues that can rob you of your good health, breast cancer was one I never thought would happen to me. I was the poster girl for “the 10 things you can do to help prevent breast cancer.” Right off the top, I love broccoli of any kind and nursed both my children for at least 10 months. But when my doctor called me the afternoon of the same day, I knew something was wrong.

I had done regular self-exams on myself but had never found any suspicious lumps. I had gone through menopause in the previous two years and was looking forward to the future now that the “childbearing years” were behind me. When I was told there was a suspicious area in my right breast, I felt like it was a bad dream I would shortly wake up from. They wanted me to return for further tests as soon as possible. A few days later I had an MRI, an ultra-sound, and 5 or 6 more x-rays. The conclusion was an 85 to 95% certainty it was indeed cancer. The radiologist and nurses were bouncing around words like malignancy and biopsy ASAP. I was so shocked I had to ask which was cancer…benign or malignancy?

From there I got myself referred to Dartmouth Hitchcock Hospital in Hanover, NH for another opinion, thinking there must be some mistake with my test results. I waited almost three weeks but finally went for a biopsy. The very next day they called to say it was breast cancer and I needed to decide what to do next. The staff at Dartmouth Hitchcock were wonderful as everyone was supportive and kind, never hesitating to answer my questions or calm my fears. My family was obviously scared and worried but I was still thinking it was a mistake.

I had a lumpectomy and a central node biopsy, all terms I had never wanted to learn about. The surgery went well; the mass was located deep against my chest wall so I never would have found it on my own. There was no cancer in my lymph nodes but the cancer was moderately aggressive and estrogen based. The choice of chemotherapy was mine and I choose not to have it. Within a month of surgery, I went back to Hanover and had my first meeting with the Radiation Oncology Department.

That was the first time I heard of the term MammoSite. The doctor said I was a good candidate and they wanted me to begin as soon as possible. The thought of five days of twice daily treatments instead of six weeks of traditional radiation was the first time since this all began that I felt like I was gaining control again.

The catheter was put in place in early September and my five days of treatment would start the following Monday. It was not very comfortable but I tried to be positive and keep in mind it would soon be behind me. The actual appointment lasted only 30 to 35 minutes starting with getting prepped, the actual treatment and getting dressed again. Twice a day for the next five days I followed this schedule. My husband, daughter and a few close friends took turns coming with me. Wednesday was my 51st birthday and my husband made sure a dozen roses were delivered to me when I finished that afternoon treatment.

There was another lady who was having MammoSite treatments that week also. She was older than me, but her courage was always inspiring to me. Friday afternoon of the week, we both ended up in the same office to have the catheter removed. In a few seconds it was removed and I told my MammoSite friend that it was a bit painful but to keep in mind we would both finally be able to take a shower, the only no-no for the week.

It has been 18 months since I completed the MammoSite treatment. I have had regular check-ups and 2 clean mammograms. Honestly, there are still moments when the whole ordeal seems surreal to me. I try not to dwell on it and stay positive about the future. The MammoSite treatment was a very positive experience for me during a time when the journey of my life was on a really bumpy road. I hope it will be for you as well.

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.