As a secondary school teacher Kyra also enjoyed putting her teaching skills into action while home-schooling her young children.
“We had a lot of fun days filled with laughs and being silly. I dyed the bottom half of my hair blue and then my kids Miles and Bianca and husband chopped it off into a short bob. When we got sick of finding hair everywhere, we cut it all off. There were a few laughs and tears, but involving them in everything meant they didn’t worry and when they look at me, they just see mum.”
After finishing chemotherapy in her home town of Mildura, Kyra became the first patient in South Australia to receive tattoo-less radiation therapy using advanced technology known as AlignRT, after travelling to Adelaide for her radiation therapy treatment in August. AlignRT provides high doses of radiation directly to the cancer with pinpoint precision through an unlimited number of reference points, which isn’t possible using traditional marks that are tattooed or marked using a pen.
“As I’m immunocompromised, the safest option for us was to travel to South Australia for treatment rather than the stress of going to Melbourne. I was surprised when I learned that I wouldn’t need to get permanent tattoos as part of my treatment. It meant there was one less thing for me to worry about, especially considering the pain and visibility involved with tattoos.”
“I would have needed to get four tattoos and one would have been visible on my chest. I’m glad not to have a visible reminder like that for special occasions and photos in the future.”
The technology is also able to deliver Deep Inspiration Breath Hold (DIBH) by monitoring the patient’s breathing position throughout treatment without the need for invasive equipment. DIBH is a technique used for left-sided breast cancer patients, which reduces the potential for any impact on the heart from radiation during treatment. The process involves the patient holding their breath for short intervals during treatment, which allows the heart to move further away from the radiation.
Kyra says being able to receive DIBH during her treatment gave her peace of mind.
“My cancer was located directly above my heart in my left breast. Knowing that radiation therapy can affect surrounding tissue, I was glad that using DIBH meant I didn’t complicate anything else, especially since I don’t have any existing issues with my heart or lungs.”
“There is a screen with a coloured line on it which moves when you breathe and lets you know when to hold your breath. It gave me something to focus on and made the whole experience much easier.”
AlignRT’s sophisticated, non-invasive technology uses camera systems to analyse the patient’s breathing during DIBH and is linked to the radiation therapy machine, which won’t run unless patients are holding their breath correctly.
“If you do lose your breath, the radiation stops; there’s no need to worry. It’s really great to be treated with this advanced technology. Everyone I’ve met along the way has been incredibly helpful; I truly feel like I’m in the right place and am being looked after in the most amazing way.”
With her treatment ending this week, Kyra looks forward to getting home to her children who have been cared for by her in-laws and parents while she’s been away for treatment.