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  •  My wife went through radiation therapy (3+ / 0-)
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    ichibon, cotterperson, Fonsia

    after a lumpectomy + 2 cm of excised tissue on four sides of the lesion (Stage 1b).  I don't know how the procedure progresses here in the US, but at one of India's best hospitals where she was treated, it worked like this:

    About 2 1/2 weeks after the surgery on 6 June 2007, they began by meticulously positioning her on a table and building what was in effect a "cage" for her chest.  Once it was constructed -- I never saw it, so I'm just going on her description -- she would go for a treatment, they'd position her on the table of the machine, place the aforementioned cage over her chest, and literally screw it down to the table so that she could not move her upper body.  After that was done, the treatments, which lasted some 20 minutes each, would take place.  All told, she had 37 of them.  

    Physically, there was little external effect of the treatments for about the first month or so.  (I'm trying to remember how often they took place -- I think it was two or three a week.  Then redness and soreness began, and by the end, the lower quarter or third of the breast looked as if it had been charred, it was that blackened.  She began the treatments in the third week of June and didn't finish until the end of the third week of August.  It took another three to four months for the blackness to finally disappear.  

    As for other physiological problems during and after the treatments, she had virtually no nausea -- I don't think she vomited once throughout it all -- but she was very, very tired and slept a lot of the time.  Her hair became coarser over time, but it never fell out.  In some senses, the worst part of the whole thing was being screwed down to the table.  It's certainly not a procedure that would suit anyone who is at all claustrophobic.  

    Her appetite was, all things considered, pretty good most of the time.  Since we were staying in a hospital guest house ($17 a night -- NOT kidding!) , and had a fridge, I was able buy an electric hot plate and an electric kettle, so I could cook very basic things for her, something that would not have been possible had we been in a regular hotel.  We could also have one of the houseboys go out to a local restaurant and get take-out for us. And to dispel the boredom we both felt because of the length of time it took -- 2 1/2 months in total -- we had satellite TV with half a dozen English stations plus a veranda just outside our door, which stretched the length of the building.  Since we were in Hyderabad during the monsoon, we would sit outside, chat with other patients -- at any given time there were five or six nationalities represented -- and watch the rain pelt down between about 5pm and 7pm, regular as clockwork.  

    As for her current state, it's now been seven years since diagnosis, and she has remained cancer free.  She has other health problems, to be sure, but at least she's not being plagued by the 'Big C' any more.  

    Anyway, good luck with the treatments.  They're no fun, but they aren't horrific, either.  

    -7.13 / -6.97 "The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion." -- Edmund Burke

    by GulfExpat on Wed Apr 02, 2014 at 09:09:06 PM PDT

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    •  Thanks, GulfExpat! (0+ / 0-)

      Sounds like you wife had more radiation than they've planned for me. They said the first session is 20 minutes, and 10 minutes thereafter. Side effects are fatigue and redness that's like a sunburn.

      It also sound like it worked for your wife! Congrats on beating it!

      I almost feel like I'm cheating other cancer survivors. I'll be one officially in a year if I don't get killed on the freeway, but I don't face anything like people who've had the actual disease. The call stage 0 "precancerous."

      I live within 10 miles of the facility, so I can stay at home. The only problem is that this is delaying the start of my new business by a good three months, but I'll be happy to take the time off!

      Good luck in the future!

      Enjoy the San Diego Zoo's panda cam! And support Bat World Sanctuary

      by Fonsia on Thu Apr 03, 2014 at 10:38:44 AM PDT

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      •  We heard the same story, actually, (0+ / 0-)

        that it would be like a "bad sunburn."  That said, the length of your treatments seems to be a lot shorter than hers was.  How many are they planning, by the way?  Come to think of it, I'm not sure I've ever heard of radiation being used for "Stage 0."  I would think that just removing the lesion would be plenty sufficient.  We've known several women who were diagnosed as 1a, had their lesions excised, and that was it.  I'd get a second opinion on the radiation they're planning for you.  The more I think about it, the more overblown it seems to me.  Why submit to any kind of radiation, which in itself can be carcinogenic, if it's not absolutely necessary??  Anyway, good luck!  

        -7.13 / -6.97 "The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion." -- Edmund Burke

        by GulfExpat on Fri Apr 04, 2014 at 12:49:02 PM PDT

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        •  I've done a buncha research on it (1+ / 0-)
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          mostly looking at sites like Susan B. Koman and The American Cancer Society.

          It seems that this is the standard, widespread treatment for DCIS Stage 0. It is considered to be breast cancer, no matter that actual cancer has not yet developed. It's called Ductal Carcinoma In Situ.

          Apparently the radiation treatment reduces the chance of recurrence in that breast by 50% to 70%. While there are some mild side effects they usually go away a few weeks after the treatment stops.

          They're planning six weeks, five days per week. So, 30 episodes. The first one takes 20 minutes, the rest are 10 minutes each.

          It is true that radiation can cause later cancers, but that risk is minuscule to the point that this course of treatment is considered to be far more optimal than just doing the lumpectomy alone.

          There is another Stage 0, called Lobular Carcinoma. In that one they tend to just watch it.

          So I'm pretty comfortable with this course of treatment. According to the American Cancer Society, five year survival rate is 100%.Ten year survival rate is close to 100% (if you get it once, you can get it again--that's what the radiation reduces).

          There also might be hormonal treatment, but they won't know that until they take it out and see what type it is. I'm hoping to avoid that. The side effects are hot flashes, and I got over those! Don't want 'em again!

          Enjoy the San Diego Zoo's panda cam! And support Bat World Sanctuary

          by Fonsia on Fri Apr 04, 2014 at 05:32:49 PM PDT

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