It started with a mammogram which showed nothing.
Then I saw my physician, my gynecologist who was doing a manual exam, who said, I think
I found a lump. I went back for a second mammogram, still
nothing. And then an ultrasound which found a lump.
After the biopsy when I heard the word “cancer” it was pretty scary. I really believed at
the time it would be nothing. They’d say it’s a mass and we’ll watch it for a few years
and it’s probably nothing. After the needle biopsy and getting the cancer
diagnosis, that’s when it’s scary. When I first got the diagnosis, I was within
another medical system because that’s where my doctor is. I felt like I wanted to get
a second opinion. So that’s when I came to see Dr. Edney at
the medical center. I first became aware that there were treatment options that I wasn’t
aware of. Women have two surgical options when they
have breast cancer. One is breast conservation, where we do a
lumpectomy. Leave the breast behind and sample a lypmh node in the armpit or sentinal node.
And then in order to get the same type of long term results we’d get from mastectomy,
they have to have radiation therapy. Traditional radiation therapy is 5 days a
week for six weeks… 30 treatments. This creates a real problem for some people
depending on their schedule. The geographical barriers associated with it especially in
an area like Nebraska that is largely rural. A woman may have to drive 250 miles a day
for treatment. What the Intrabeam device is, is a unique
way of delivering all the radiation a patient needs in one treatment to the tumor site in
the operating room. The way this is done, the surgeon goes in,
removes the tumor. There’s a cavity there. You select an applicator that’s appropriate
for the size of the cavity. Usually it’s anywhere from 3-5cm.
It’s placed into the cavity, hooked up to the device and all the radiation is delivered
at the time of operation. It usually takes anywhere from 25-40 minutes
so what we can accomplish in one session of approx. an hour to an hour and a half of operation
and radiation would usually take 12 weeks of conventional treatment.
It sounded really good I said sign me up! Since that time, recovery has gone well, healing
has gone well. Turned out that I did need chemotherapy which I’ve started now.
But if I hadn’t had the interoperative radiation, I would have looked at surgery, recovery,
chemo for 12 weeks and then an additional six weeks. It would have really stretched
out that treatment plan. So I’m happy the radiation is behind me. It’s
just the chemo I’m working through. Essentially, the radiation and surgery worked.
There’s no cancer today. But it’s the chance of recurrance we’re treating now, trying to
minimize those chances. It’s cutting edge technology, based upon good
clinical research. I think that’s our responsibility as an NCI-designated cancer center; to provide
those options which might not be available someplace else. I honestly didn’t know about Intrabeam as
an option. I wouldn’t have known if I’d stayed with my original healthcare system.
It was by saying I’d like to have a second opinion. I came to Dr. Edney through the referral
of a friend who was very pleased. I was so excited when I heard there was this
other option. It made a huge difference for me.