Ester Leutenberg – Radiation Therapy for Breast Cancer
In 2003, I had breast cancer surgery.
My breast cancer was Paget's Disease. Only 4% of breast cancer is that. It took my going to three doctors 'til the third one recognized that it was a problem and not just a sore nipple. Dr. Malgieri of Hillcrest Clinic knew what it was.
After months of being upset because no one believed me, I was at a fairly anxious state. This was February of 2003, when I was still living in Cleveland.
The surgery went easily. They removed the nipple and whole area around it, then checked the lymph nodes and all was well there.
Radiation was indicated. I always needed my husband Jay with me for a scary procedure. I was fearful and anxious of being alone in the room. He wasn't allowed in the room with me. So I had a brilliant idea - I knew about Belleruth's Radiation tape!
I emailed or called Belleruth, don't remember which. She asked if I wanted the tape or if I wanted her to come with me (for which I will always be grateful). I told her the tape was fine.
I tend to be claustrophobic in a situation like that, and from the first treatment to the 28th, I listened to her calm, soothing, wonderful voice relaxing me, and envisioned the sun healing me in that room where the lights were darkened and then very bright. I was able to have the radiation in a calm way.
Every morning for 28 days, I went for radiation at 7:30 am and then directly to work, just took a little nappie in the afternoon.
I am often embarrassed to tell another survivor that I also had breast cancer, because it was so easy for me - Tamoxifen for 5 years, a check-up semi-annually, and that was it.
I had amazing support from Jay. He was incredible. All three of my daughters were with us at the hospital the entire day of the surgery.
Here's a side story: two of my daughters went with Jay and me to the consultation with the doc before surgery. He asked if I wanted him to do reconstructive surgery and create a nipple, taking skin from my stomach or somewhere. Both girls simultaneously put up their hands and said. "I'll donate my stomach skin".
I did not do it. It's my badge of honor and my husband loves both breasts equally.