5 Days of Radiation - A Patient's Perspective
Take a moment to read the comments by Judy Danz, a patient of Dr. Robert Kuske. Judy also created this beautiful quilt that hangs proudly on the wall at the ABCS Office in Scottsdale.
I am a 5-year breast cancer survivor, a patient of Dr. Robert Kuske and a participant in the SAVI trial, one of the more recent devices used in 5-day APBI. I just don't understand the push towards whole breast radiation. Six weeks of treatment vs. five days, horrible skin burns vs. a minor incision, months of exhaustion and fatigue vs. a couple weeks. The fact is that the more radiation a person is exposed to, the more long-term health issues that person will have for the rest of their life, and for what? I may still lose a breast? But what about the big hit on my heart and lungs that whole breast radiation causes? Or that whole breast radiation may "use up" so to speak my lifetime radiation exposure so in the future if I am diagnosed with another cancer, I am no longer eligible for radiation treatment (and this happened to a close friend of mine). I was informed of all the options, risks and benefits. My dad had radiation treatment for lung cancer, and I saw first-hand the pain and suffering he experienced from external radiation treatments. There are no real statistics yet that indicates I'm at a greater risk for recurrence (and I've passed that 5-year anniversary), but with whole breast radiation there is a documented risk that my heart may no longer last a lifetime, that I may be left with burn scars, and that I may spend years dealing with extreme exhaustion and fatigue. SAVI is a decision that I am happy I made and have no regrets.
So many of these studies are simply statistical analysis of tick marks on a survey. They don't take into account the human costs of the treatment. I not only want to survive breast cancer, I want to live a healthy and full life after breast cancer.
Dr. Kuske has devoted his life to making breast cancer treatment better for the patient and I wished more doctors would consider that aspect of medicine. It's not always about the cure, it's about surviving the cure as well.