Nina B.

Bible College Dean & Minister
Oakland, CA
Treated with SAVI – August 2011

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My experience taught me how important it is for newly diagnosed patients to take the time to understand all their treatment options. It’s hard because when you’re first diagnosed, you’re in a panic mode, and I think the natural instinct initially, at least in my experience, is to go drastic – get everything out, kill everything to make sure the cancer is gone. But I’m so glad I took the time to research and learn about partial breast radiation with SAVI because it turned out to be the best option for me.

I was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer after a routine mammogram detected some calcifications. My surgeon told me I might be a candidate for SAVI and referred me to a radiation oncologist, Dr. Rakesh Patel. Dr. Patel thoroughly explained both whole breast radiation and partial breast radiation with SAVI, what each treatment entailed, the pros and cons of both. First I had to decide between a mastectomy and lumpectomy, and once I made the decision to have a lumpectomy, I decided SAVI was the way to go. For me, it wasn’t as much about the convenience of the five days of treatment (vs. 6 weeks with whole breast). What really appealed to me about SAVI is how targeted the radiation is, and how that can result in less toxicity and better cosmetic outcomes. Whole breast radiation just seemed excessive. The way I looked at it was if you have a fire in one room of your house, you wouldn’t bulldoze the entire house, would you?

Treatment with SAVI was pretty easy. Everything happened very quickly, and I was still recovering from surgery when the SAVI device was inserted, so I had a little bit of discomfort, but nothing severe. I never even took any pain medication. I didn’t have any fatigue during the week of treatment, either. For me, the two hardest things were that I couldn’t sleep on my side and that I couldn’t shower – so my hair was a mess! But if those are the worst things I had to deal with, I’d say that’s pretty good. I went back to work and started exercising the following week, and I felt fine.

I would definitely recommend this treatment to anyone who is newly diagnosed with breast cancer. I know everyone isn’t a candidate, but SAVI is definitely an option you want to consider if it’s available to you.