New MammoSite Brachytherapy Treatment for Breast Cancer Patients
Sue's Story about Using a New Therapy to Battle her Breast Cancer
As (Marilyn) Sue Parson walked in for her catheter placement, her "you-go-girl" energy and mountain girl hardiness buckled in the face of a dozen medical professionals staring back at her from a solemn operating room. She swallowed her fears and stepped onto the table, assuming her role as pioneer.
Fifty years of nursing experience and her role as a psych nurse in Swedish's Pre-Admissions Clinic still didn't prepare Sue for dealing with breast cancer. However, it did give her the edge in deciding to be the first patient at Swedish to undergo a new investigational cancer treatment and to fulfill what she felt was her destiny to be a part of important research to give women hope for a more gentle, efficient treatment for breast cancer.
MammoSite Brachytherapy for Treating Breast Cancer
MammoSite Brachytherapy, a balloon-catheter method of delivering radiation internally directly to a lumpectomy cavity, has gained acceptance since the first trials were done in Detroit and New Orleans about seven years ago. Sue was the first patient to qualify and agree to undergo MammoSite Brachytherapy at Swedish. She forewent the well-accepted practice of daily radiation applications over six weeks to test the condensed treatment time and efficacy of this promising new treatment.
"It could be a little scary, but we were really in sync as a team," explained Sue, who likened the experience to a dance where each person gave and took as needed to help everything flow smoothly. "I had such awesome support."
Through a catheter inserted into her right breast, Sue received specifically controlled doses of radiation ballooned into the cavity where the cancer cells once grew. For five days, she underwent the MammoSite Brachytherapy twice a day, each time receiving a CT scan to ensure the integrity of the balloon placement and an exam to determine the finely tuned radiation dose.
Perfect Candidate for MammoSite Brachytherapy
Sue was the perfect candidate for MammoSite Brachytherapy due to her breast size, post-menopausal age, tumor size and negative lymph node results. The goal with this technique is to offer a shorter, more convenient and more exact alternative to treat breast tumors without damaging delicate skin or normal breast tissue. The outcome is expected to work as well as other methods of brachytherapy, which use interstitial needle techniques to administer radiation seeds internally, although the medical profession won't have definitive proof until reviewing patients' long-term outcomes.
Either way, Sue is committed to her treatment choice and encourages other woman to not only be diligent in their screenings but also confident in their instincts and health management. "It's so important that we now have choices and hope."
Sue, who can vividly remember the devastation of polio during her youth, hopes that one day cancer can be prevented as easily as we ward off polio with a simple sugar cube. Until then, she visualizes herself on an intertube riding the sometimes-rough waters of her ordeal, and she maintains her faith that her pioneering treatment may be a step to answering her and other cancer patient's prayers.