The First Day of Brachytherapy


03 Feb
03Feb

After surgery on a Thursday my surgeon said that she hoped to have the results of the tumor and lymph node pathology report by late Friday afternoon. If the report showed that I did not have cancer cells in the tumor margins and lymph nodes then she MIGHT be able to insert the brachytherapy device on the Monday after surgery.  Unfortunately, the results were not available until Monday afternoon which postponed the device insertion for a week. This was a major disappointment and yet, in looking back, it was a blessing to have 7-days for the two incisions (tumor and lymph nodes) to have time to heal.  

However, after living with the tender pain of surgery for a week I was DREADING the insertion of the Savi Brachy device through the tumor surgical site. I was filled with anxiety and fear of the pain of the procedure and was completely unable to calm myself or even get to a place of accepting it, much less peace!  

Upon her arrival, my surgeon utilized ultrasound to find the tumor cavity and sized the Savi Brachy - a size 6 (next to smallest diameter).  I breathed a sigh of relief!  She then administered two injections to deaden the area, unwrapped the approximately dime sized diameter Savi Brachy device, cut a small opening into the surgical incision, and began to insert the device.  It required three hard pushes.  The pain was not sharp, just extremely intense. Once the device was correctly placed, the surgeon used a device key to expand the catheter wires into the tumor pocket.  

Upon completion of the device insertion we immediately drove to the radiational oncology center.  I remember crying all the way to the radiation center with my husband attempting to console and calm me but nothing was working - I was losing it!

We arrived for the 9:30AM appointment with the radiation oncologist who administered a CT scan to see if the Savi device was in the proper location.  As the CT scan began whirring around me I was filled with terror that the device would not be optimally positioned and that the radiologist would have to manipulate it into place.  Thankfully, it was optimally placed!  

The radiologist and physicist began working to calculate the radiation load and other vital measures that would become the basis for my twice a day treatment for the next five days.  This took approximately 1-1/2 hours while I waited in a hospital gown with the Savi Brachy sticking out of the side of my breast.  I was extremely careful to not move my arm - worried that I would knock the device out of position.  As the minutes ticked by the deadening from the insertion was beginning to wear off and I was afraid that I was going to feel the pain of this fresh wound with pain relief.  Why had I not taken three Tylenol before leaving home?!  I had thought about it and didn't follow my intuition.  ARGGG

Morning and afternoon radiation treatment began that day and consisted of connecting the seven catheter tubes in my device to seven leads coming from an accelerometer to distribute the radiation dose into my tumor site.  I remember crying through the first treatment as the catheter tubes were connected and i kept apologizing to the staff.  I was emotionally overwhelmed - so much had happened in the span of four hours.  Too much for me to absorb.   

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