CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) -
"I was diagnosed in March of 2013," said Sharon Laster.
After Sharon Laster's breast cancer diagnosis, doctors discussed treatment.
There are usually three options: surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.
Laster had a lumpectomy and started radiation a few months later.
Like many breast cancer patients, Laster said she had no idea what radiation treatment meant.
"When I was explaining it to my grandson, I told him how the machine was set up and what it did and how it moved and he said oh nana that sounds like you're going through a car wash," said Laster.
She said in a way the treatment could wash away the cancer in your body.
Chemotherapy stops or slows the growth of cancer cells through the use of drugs, while radiation kills cancer cells through a beam of high energy.
"I said hallelujah, no chemo," said Laster.
Laster had 16 radiation treatments at Saint Francis Medical Center.
When getting treatment, patients lay on the table looking up at the machine circle around them. The treatments only last about 10 minutes, but are required five days a week for anywhere between 16 to 30 treatments.
"It all depends on the type of breast cancer and how aggressive it is and how aggressive we need to be," said Saint Francis Medical Center nurse Vanessa Cloward.
She said a lot of times patients are nervous when they hear the word radiation.
"Radiation is pretty much like getting high dose x-rays, you don't feel it, you don't see it, you don't smell it, you just lay on a table, the beam moves through you and then you're done," said Cloward.
Cloward said they position the angle of the beam to make sure it's only hitting the cancerous spot, not any other vital organs like your heart or lungs.
“You are not radioactive when you leave the office, you can still be around children, pets," said Cloward.
However, Cloward said there are a few possible side-effects like getting tired or skin irritation like redness or peeling.
Despite those chances, Laster said she's glad she did the radiation and now she's cancer free.
"The radiation experience was smooth sailing all the way through," said Laster.