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My Story

Linda | age 69
Financial Planner
Arlington Heights, IL
12 years, 2 months since her MammoSite treatment.

My follow up mammogram in November of 2006 showed a suspicious area, so I was scheduled for a needle biopsy in December. This confirmed early cancer in my left breast, and I scheduled a lumpectomy for January 2007. Before the surgery, I was told about MammoSite as an option to conventional radiation, but I couldn’t really focus on exactly what it meant. My surgeon explained the cancer treatment process would be like a decision tree – you have to have one answer before you can decide on the next step. After my surgery, she suggested that because of the size and position of my lumpectomy, I would be a candidate for MammoSite. The thought of five (or more) weeks, five times a week for conventional radiation was difficult to comprehend given my need to keep working, so the idea of being finished with this phase of my treatment in only 5 days was very appealing.

My surgeon inserted the catheter as an office procedure. She was only able to put about 60 percent of the saline into the balloon, however, because it became too painful. She said that the radiologist, who I was scheduled to meet with later the same day, would be able to fill the rest. When I met with the radiologist, he did put more saline in, but again, wasn’t able to fill it completely because of the discomfort I was experiencing. He explained that unless the balloon is completely round, the radiation wouldn’t be distributed evenly. Some areas would get too much radiation; other areas wouldn’t get enough. This is why it’s important to make sure that your whole treatment “team” is in agreement on whether you’re a good candidate.

We didn’t give up. We waited until the next day, and finally, my radiologist was able to get the last of the saline into the catheter to give me a round balloon. Hooray!!! I’m telling this part of my story because while I know there have been some women who haven’t been able to use the MammoSite even if they appear to be a candidate, you don’t have to give up too soon. Working with my radiologist and the rest of the radiology team, we made it work.

The treatment room at my hospital had a beautiful domed ceiling that looked like a real blue sky with lovely trees. Lying on the treatment table gazing at the ceiling and listening to the music of my choice made my 10-minute, twice daily treatments fly by. I started on a Friday, waited over the weekend, and finished up the next Thursday. At the end, the radiologist removed the catheter and I was on my way. My breast was somewhat “sunburned” for a couple weeks, and the redness returned during the first phase of my chemotherapy, but I know it will fade. I am grateful that the MammoSite was an option for me, despite the rough start, so that I could get on with the next phase of my treatment and begin to put this all behind me.

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.