How my wife beat breast cancer because of brachytherapy

Real Stories

Joaquim is the husband of Maria Luiza. This is not a common patient story, this is Joaquim's beloved wife's. In this video, Joaquim tells us about his wife's recovery journey following breast cancer. He explains how brachytherapy was instrumental in her treatment plan.

Thumbnail: Maria Luiza, breast cancer survivor's husband talks about brachytherapy

"Don’t feel defeated. You have to fight against it, you have to fight for the right person."

Joaquim is 80 years old and lives in Buñol, in the province of Valencia. He is retired and stays at home with Maria Luiza. The couple loves it when they get the visit of their children and grandchildren. For now, Joaquim prefers to remain cautiously optimistic about Maria's health. The reason is that Maria Luiza had attempted to shield him from worry when she experienced the first symptoms.

Breast cancer diagnosis

Joaquim remembers the moment his wife told him she woke up to something unusual in her breast. Even after the initial examination by the doctor revealed no concerning signs, she was still referred to Manises (Valencia) for an ultrasound to further investigate.

Joaquim accompanied Maria Luiza to the hospital for the ultrasound appointment. The exam confirmed the presence of a 1.5-centimeter lump. For years to come, Joaquim will remember the day his wife showed such remarkable courage. After the doctors had recommended Maria return in a couple of days for a biopsy, she insisted on having the procedure immediately.

The results of the biopsy confirmed that Maria had a small, non-aggressive tumor that would require surgery and other follow-up treatments.

The treatment protocol with radiation therapy

Each patient is different and there are different methods to treat breast cancer. The oncologist will suggest the treatment options depending on factors such as the cancer type, or the patient's overall health.

Joaquim's wife received the most common treatment; she underwent a partial mastectomy (that wasn't the whole breast) followed by 16 sessions of radiation therapy with accelerated partial breast irradiation.

Brachytherapy as part of Joaquim's wife's cancer treatment

What is brachytherapy?

Brachytherapy treatment, also referred to as interventional radiotherapy, is a type of radiation treatment that delivers a dose of radiation directly to the cancerous area. Unlike external beam radiation, the brachytherapy procedure uses implants, such as wires, seeds, or rods filled with radioactive material, which are inserted in the patient's body temporarily until the treatment is completed. By placing the radiation source as close as possible to the tumor site, the technique minimizes exposure to healthy tissues and reduces side effects.

This method is highly effective in treating many forms of cancer such as cervical cancer, prostate cancer, and skin cancer.

Brachytherapy treatment is an effective option to treat cancer patients. If you're considering brachytherapy as a treatment option and want to learn more about it before speaking to your healthcare providers, you will find a breadth of resources at such as frequently asked questions.

Joaquim had never heard about brachytherapy before his wife got the treatment for her last radiation session.

The session took place in the operating room because it started with the insertion of three needles through the skin after they put her to sleep. The radiation materials were delivered through those needles as a final radiation boost to kill the remaining cancerous cells.

The benefits of brachytherapy in cancer care

Joaquim gets emotional and proud when he recounts that his wife, Maria, experienced remarkable outcomes from her brachytherapy treatment. First of all, the therapy is really quick and doesn't require many trips to the hospital. Maria was in and out of the hospital in only six hours and reported minimal side effects compared to other treatments such as chemotherapy and external beam radiation. Joaquim attributes this success to the technique's ability to protect healthy tissue, allowing for a faster and more effective recovery.

Joaquim, who fought alongside his wife in her battle against illness, wants to offer solace to other cancer patients. "You mustn't give up," he urges them. "Doctors are dedicated to taking care of us and learning from our experiences so that we can eventually overcome our fear of the disease. Even though there are some incredibly difficult cases, we must fight and I'm here to offer my encouragement."

Joaquim's greatest wish is to keep his wonderful life, spending more years with Maria, his wife, his children, and his grandchildren.