How brachytherapy helped me overcome cervical cancer

Real Stories

In this video, Laura describes how she discovered brachytherapy and how it helped her overcome cervical cancer.

"I never had any doubts about survival...In the end, the result was to make cervical cancer disappear and it disappeared."

Laura is 34 years old. She lives in Murcia, Spain, and works at a help desk. She is part of a family of five and has two brothers. Family means everything to her. She describes her loved ones and herself as a pretty big, noisy family, who like to be together. She adds: “We are so close that my parents came to live with me when I was diagnosed.”

Thumbnail: Laura, cervical cancer survivor talks about her experiences with brachytherapy

The Cervical Cancer Diagnosis

When Laura went for her annual visit to the doctor two years ago, she didn't expect devastating news of cervical cancer.

During a routine papillomavirus test, her gynecologist noticed something suspicious and asked her to come back three days later. Rather than taking the situation seriously, and without specific symptoms, Laura neglected to schedule a follow-up appointment after her initial examination.

It was only when her doctor contacted her directly, stressing the importance of returning to the hospital, that Laura realized the gravity of her condition.

When she received the call, Laura was with a friend. She recalls she wasn’t paying attention at all during the conversation with her physician. Her friend was the one who asked the questions and absorbed the information. Laura recalls being in a state of shock and feeling totally lost as the word "cancer" typically carries the connotation of death. She even uttered: “I don’t know what I should do!”

Finding the right mindset after the diagnosis

After leaving the doctor's office, Laura took a moment to reflect on her situation, and her mind immediately turned to thoughts of survival. She was completely certain that she would make it through this and recalls: “I never had any doubt about surviving.” While Laura did have some concerns about the treatment plan, she never doubted its effectiveness. At times, she found herself pondering: "What's our plan? How are we going to tackle this?" And then she talked to all the doctors.

Following the treatment protocol rigorously

Having faith in her care team and carefully following the treatment plan they suggested became Laura’s main focus. She knew she would have fertility issues as the disease affects the female reproductive system and the journey would be rough. Despite this, she always held onto the belief that she would survive. She remembers: “We didn’t know how long the treatment would last but I knew that it would have a beginning and an end.”

Learning about brachytherapy as a treatment option for cervical cancer

Laura never heard of Brachytherapy until her first appointment with the radiotherapist.

What is brachytherapy?

She learned that brachytherapy, also called interventional radiation therapy, is a treatment to fight most of cervical cancers including advanced cervical cancer. It works by precisely targeting the cancer cells with the source of radiation placed directly next to the tumor. In the event of squamous cell carcinoma (cervical cancer), the flat cells and glandular cells of the cervix are destroyed. The treatment also aims to prevent cervical cancer from returning which is always a risk.

How does brachytherapy work?

Laura’s treatment plan was outlined from the beginning, with five sessions of chemotherapy, followed by around twenty-eight sessions of radiotherapy, and finally four sessions of brachytherapy. Laura accepted the recommendation without objection. She recalls: “My attitude was to do whatever was necessary, whether it was chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or brachytherapy.”

Laura urges other cancer patients to consider brachytherapy treatment.

Looking back to her care journey, Laura shares how she is happy with the treatment she received. She says: “I think brachytherapy was a good treatment because it is specifically aimed at the cancer cells. The ultimate goal was to make it disappear and it disappeared.” As someone who has experienced the benefits of brachytherapy, Laura highly encourages cancer patients to get informed and consider it as a treatment option. She says: “It's possible that your radiotherapist may not have mentioned it, and you can discuss it with him and the medical team.”

Elekta has developed a range of resources to help patients and families explore the benefits of brachytherapy in treating most cervical cancers, as well as additional information such as the procedure itself its benefits, and the risk factors. Explore here these resources to learn more.

“I look forward to getting my life back”

Two years after completing her treatment, Laura is still on her journey to full recovery. Although the treatment period was relatively short, only four months, she knows that true recovery requires patience and time. Her main wish is to reclaim her life, and she is determined to do whatever it takes to make that happen.

She encourages other patients to take control of their care, get informed and discuss their treatment plan with the medical teams. She says: ”Do everything your doctors tell you and everything you can do for yourself.”

Laura suggests also always seeking support from your loved ones. She says: “It all helps, and you have to take each small step forward.”