My experience with brachytherapy vs other cancer treatments
Pepi, who has previous experience with cancer, shares her positive experience with brachytherapy as part of her latest breast cancer treatment.
"If a patient were to ask me directly I would fully recommend brachytherapy because the doses are completed sooner, in a shorter time. It is just five to six days maximum."*
Pepi is 53 years old and lives in Barcelona, Spain with her husband Miguel, their two children, and two cats. Like countless other cancer patients, Pepi vividly remembers the day of her second cancer diagnosis and the premonitory sign she had.
Breast Cancer Diagnosis: “I almost self-diagnosed myself”
On the day of her test, Pepi already knew that the results wouldn't reveal a benign tumor. With the experience of previous cancer, she felt that even without specific symptoms, the tumor was malignant. She recalls asking the radiologist about the results and her fears were confirmed: it was cancer.
The news remained a shock for Pepi. She evokes how hard it was: “When the doctor confirmed the diagnosis, it was like a Bang! It was like they are throwing cold water at you.” She remembers feeling devastated as if all her projects had come to a complete standstill.
But her anger quickly dissipated. She put this new diagnosis into perspective and her outlook shifted to a more optimistic mindset. She followed her doctors' advice: to focus on her immediate goal, progressing step by step through her therapeutic journey.
Brachytherapy as a Breast Cancer Treatment Option
Due to Pepi's history of extensive external radiation treatments, brachytherapy was suggested as a substitute for the more conventional whole-breast external beam radiation.
Researchers have found that brachytherapy is an effective treatment option for early-stage breast cancer and her oncologist confirmed she was a good candidate to receive the treatment. After seeing data on the expected outcomes, Pepi felt confident to proceed with brachytherapy.
You can learn more about Brachytherapy as a treatment option for breast cancer patients while visiting this page on the website.
What is Brachytherapy and How Does it Work?
Brachytherapy also known as internal radiotherapy, is a type of radiation therapy used to treat cancer patients. It involves placing hollow guides (called applicators) inside the body to access to the tumor. The radiation materials are then delivered through these guides to kill the cancer cells while sparing the surrounding healthy tissue.
Prior to her surgery, Pepi received chemotherapy. She then underwent brachytherapy, with first the positioning of thin hollow tubes into her breast. The tubes acted as pathways, providing a direct channel for the machine's thin wires to deliver the treatment. Imaging control was performed throughout the procedure and at the end, the CT scan showed that everything was fine.
The Advantages of Brachytherapy for Breast Cancer
After completing her brachytherapy sessions, Pepi reflected on the difference between this treatment and the external radiation she had in the past. She shares how surprised she was by the almost inexistent restrictions following the treatment: “I could even take a shower right away the next day!” She didn't have much pain or identified discomfort.
Additionally, she didn't suffer from any skin redness, something she experienced with her previous care protocol. Pepi also talks about the advantage of quick treatment. Compared to external radiotherapy, brachytherapy delivers higher doses of radiation in a shorter period of time. She remembers: “With standard radiation therapy, you have a series of doses, for perhaps a month. You have to go back and forth to the hospital every day. But in this case, with brachytherapy, in no time at all, in five days the treatment was completed.”
Pepi points out another advantage for patients: they don't need to be inside a machine, avoiding any potential anxiety.
Today, Pepi wants to advocate for the treatment she received.
"Because of all this, of course, if a patient were to ask me directly, I would fully recommend brachytherapy.”
Learn more about brachytherapy's advantages for breast cancer by visiting this page, and discover many resources and support for patients and families.
Getting my life back
After her brachytherapy, Pepi is ready to get back to her normal life. She didn't want to let the disease hold her back and go on with her dreams, her social life in her community, and also her work. Keeping the mind busy is essential to your mental health and part of the recovery. She is determined to resume her life, to live it to the fullest, and looks forward to spending a nice summer on the beach at her house in Platja d'Aro!