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Brachytherapy Saved My Breasts

By HERWriter
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When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I prepared myself for the worst case scenario. With a history of ovarian cancer, I imagined a bilateral mastectomy, chemotherapy and 5-7 weeks of radiation . . . but I was wrong.

What I discovered were stunning developments in medicine as effective but dramatically less challenging than what I believed lay ahead for me.

My circumstances made me a candidate for a new High Dose Radiation treatment called Brachytherapy, a 5-day outpatient treatment proved to be as effective as beam radiation. Combined with a lumpectomy, this plan offered me the lowest recurrence rate possible for my case, roughly 4%.

A standard mammogram had discovered a single, stage II tumor of the most common type, Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. When the cancer was surgically removed, a wisk-like device was inserted into the cavity. The result was a medieval-looking arrangement that made sleep impossible but, twice a day, delivered radioactive seeds to the affected area.

Pink ribbons have underwritten breast cancer research and the result is improvements in survival rates across the board:
Stage I: 100%
Stage IIA: 92%
Stage IIB: 81%
Stage IIIA: 67%
Stage IIIB: 54%
Stage IV: 20%

And, to further the case for mammograms, statistics prove that early detection is our best bet for survival.

I loved being done with treatment in a week instead of two months. I appreciated options that avoided unnecessary damage to my healthy tissue. And, I'm thankful that more aggresive surgery was unnecessary.

But mostly, I'm grateful to be alive.

Note: Brachytherapy is now used to treat other cancers, including prostate, cervix, head and neck, ovary, brain, gallbladder, uterus and vagina.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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