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Beth K.

Special Education Teacher
Dover, DE
Treated with SAVI – January 2013

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The dates are ingrained in my mind forever. I went for my annual mammogram on Nov. 7, 2012 and thought, “Check that off the list until next year.” The next day, I got a call back. After an additional mammogram and ultrasound on the 12th, a biopsy was recommended. I called Dr. Wendy Newell’s office and lucked out by getting in the same day I called. My biopsy was scheduled for the following Monday, Nov. 19th. I received the diagnosis of cancer on the 21st.

I had DCIS, a very small cancer that was caught early. Dr. Newell went over what would happen next, and introduced treatment options, including the five days of SAVI versus weeks of whole breast radiation. This gave me time to do some research and some thinking. After more tests (an MRI, chest x-ray, and ultrasound), I met with her again on Dec. 6th, and chose a lumpectomy and SAVI.

Choosing SAVI meant that I would have to go to Philadelphia to be treated at Hahnemann Hospital. I would be required to stay there during my five days of treatment. I knew that having five days of accelerated treatment would be worth being away from my husband and son because I could get it done and also because the side effects from this type of treatment were mild/minimal. I would say that the fact that side effects were minimal with this treatment was a major factor in my decision!

After treatment, I could return to my life and my work more quickly. My lumpectomy was done on Dec. 26th, and the SAVI catheter was placed on Jan. 2nd in Dr. Newell’s office. On January 7th, exactly two months to the day after my annual mammogram, I began my treatment. Dr. Lydia Komarnicky, my radiation oncologist, along with Dr. Reiff, my radiation physicist, took charge of my treatment. They were assisted by medical resident, Dr. Zia. They were wonderful—everything was explained to me and they put me at ease right away. The nurses and technicians were also terrific. I told the staff that they took a scary situation and made it positive. As far as side effects, I was very tired during treatment, but I was able to get outside and walk each day. I made sure I rested in between treatment sessions. There was discomfort from the catheter and it was hard to get comfortable, but it was well worth it to be done with radiation in a few days, rather than in six or so weeks. I would recommend SAVI to any woman who can have it. I’m forever thankful that it was an option for me!

I must add that I am happy to have the opportunity to share my experience with SAVI with other women! I did read the SAVI Sisters’ stories while I was contemplating my decision in November, and I went back and reread them as my treatment time approached! Hearing from real women who’ve been through the experience is so helpful and comforting.