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My Story

Ladonna | age 59
Commercial Stylist
El Paso, TX
11 years, 1 month since her MammoSite treatment.
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My breast cancer was diagnosed July 26, 2006 at the Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, California. Scripps is a world-renowned health care facility. For many years my family and I have vacationed in the San Diego area during the summers, and during this time we had developed the routine of getting our annual physical exams as well.

My doctor’s name is Peter Sacks. During my initial visit with him he asked me if there have been any changes in my condition since I last saw him, (which was July of the prior year). I told him that I had been feeling great. My only concern was that I had found a very small, pea sized lump in my left breast, at 12:00. I explained that I had immediately called my doctor in El Paso and was in his office probably no more than a week later. My El Paso doctors’ diagnosis was that this lump was probably just another simple cyst and nothing to be alarmed about. I was told to keep an eye on the area and that it could be aspirated in a few months once it was larger. As the months went by the cyst did indeed begin to grow. I knew that I would be seeing Dr. Sacks soon so I figured I’d wait until I went to La Jolla and have his team examine me again and aspirate the cyst through guided needle ultra sound. Since I’ve had this procedure done at the Scripps Clinic before I knew it to be very effective.

At the time, I remember being very relieved, because I have had a long history of fibrocystic disease and with each lump I have found over the years there has always been the concern that it might be cancer.

Since my doctor at home wasn’t concerned about this new lump, I didn’t give it much more thought. As the months went by, I checked this new growth periodically. I could feel the slight change in size as it began to grow. I was actually glad that it was increasing in size because the larger the cyst was, the easier it would be to drain. I’ve had some very large cysts aspirated, some the size of a jack ball.

Getting back to my appointment at Scripps… Dr. Sacks ordered a mammogram and ultrasound to be performed immediately. These procedures were performed over the next two days. I had both exams as scheduled. The mammogram was, of course, done first. While waiting to get my ultrasound the technician put my mammogram films up on the light box. She told me that the results looked good; the results didn’t show anything suspicious. I sighed with relief! It was the ultrasound, however, that would tell a different story.

Dr. Sacks’ office called me the next day and scheduled an appointment for me to return at my earliest convenience to discuss my test results. It was at that follow up appointment that I was told that I had breast cancer. It was diagnosed as noninvasive carcinoma. Shocked as I was when I got the news I was even more shocked when my doctor recommended that I return to El Paso to have my surgery performed there, rather than staying in California. My doctor felt that because I had a proper diagnosis, it would be safe and better for me and my family to be treated at home.

So that’s what I did.

The first thing I researched upon returning home to El Paso, was who the best surgeons were in the city for someone with my type of cancer. Fate lead me to Dr. Gary Schabacker, Chief Surgeon in charge of the Breast Cancer Clinic at the Texas Tech Health Science Center. What an angel that man was! He was calm and so reassuring! He put my mind at ease and gave me hope and a sense of peace about what was to come.

At first, Dr. Schabacker was very straightforward about performing a mastectomy and all that the surgery would entail. Although I was very upset about the prospect of losing my breast, a part of me, I knew that I had to be optimistic about the procedure that would save my life. A day or two later, Dr. Schabacker called me back into his office to discuss something… he had an idea.

When I got to the office the doctor told me about MammoSite. He thought that because of the margins of my tumor I might be a good candidate for this new form of radiation therapy. He explained that he was sending my information to the manufacturer and would know shortly whether or not his suspicions were correct. To my great fortune the message came back a few days later, from the MammoSite representative, that I would be a great candidate for the procedure. I was elated! I would be able to keep my breast! Even better, I was informed that the treatment would only take 5 days, 2 short sessions per day. This honestly seemed too good to be true. Dr. Schabacker gave me a smile and a reassuring hug that I was indeed going to be OK.

My surgery was scheduled for the following week. I had a lumpectomy in the hospital then went home to rest and recuperate. One week later I went back to the hospital to have the MammoSite surgically implanted.

After the surgery, I went to the El Paso Cancer Treatment Center where my radiologist, Dr. Annu Gupta blew up the “balloon” of the MammoSite in the cavity which had been left by the tumor the week before. Everything went great! It was easy! I had a cat scan and the margins were set for the radiation and I was then good to go. I remember thinking when I walked out of the Cancer Treatment Center that it was almost impossible to believe that my treatment, like my cancer, would be so noninvasive.

It was that easy. For 5 days, twice a day, I would go to the El Paso Cancer Treatment Center and receive my daily dose of radiation. It was painless and quick. In 5 short days the therapy was completed. Had I not gone this route, I was told that the traditional treatment would have taken me 6 weeks and exposed my whole breast to radiation rather than the pin point radiation that MammoSite offers. The whole treatment was only ten, 6-minute sessions and now I’m very happy to say that I am now cancer free.

For any woman who is a candidate for this procedure I would highly encourage her to consider this form of treatment. It’s fast, effective and best of all, for my psyche, my body is still intact! I still feel like a woman.

Although I have a 5-inch scar on the top of my left breast I’m delighted to have it there! It’s a daily reminder of my courage and bravery. It’s the scar that reminds me of the fight that I fought, and won, and the bliss that I enjoy because of MammoSite!

Happy and cancer free!

Ladonna,
Survivor.

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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.