36th Post – Beginning Radiation 13.01.2014

Tomorrow is my first day of Radiation.  I decided to do it.  It came down to this… at my current state with having surgery and being post chemo, I have a 30% of recurrence in the chest and armpit area of my body.  With radiation that chance drops way down to 5%.   wooohoo!  That’s just for recurrence in the chest/underarm area though.  I still have a higher chance of recurrence than 5% elsewhere in my body.  I don’t know what the exact figure for that is, and I’d rather not know it right now.  But it seems the doctors are more concerned about the chest and underarm area anyways.  The chest region because of the tumours that were in my breasts, and the underarm area because I had 2/3 of my lymph nodes removed from there because there was cancer in the first lymph node in each armpit.

It is still believed that I don’t currently have cancer.  All treatment post surgery is in case there are tiny stray cancer cells hiding out in me.  If there are or were any stray cells, we have to get rid of them and not let them develop.

They wanted to do radiation on me because although I had chemo, my lymph node ducts are damaged from some of my lymph nodes being cut out during my operation.  With the lymph node ducts being damaged, it is more difficult for the chemo to penetrate the remaining lymph nodes and treat any possible stray cancer cells there.  So then they do the radiation to help be more thorough.

I start radiation tomorrow and it goes for 5 weeks.  It’s every weekday, not weekends.  I’m told it can cause fatigue, but it isn’t supposed to be as exhausting as chemo.  And at least I won’t be hurling my guts out and have to be hooked up on an IV in my own bedroom and have to take a library’s worth of drugs for the side effects.  No.  That was chemo.

I haven’t been writing on here since my final chemo.  I slowly started to feel better after that last dose and so I was just eager to do more things that I couldn’t do before while I was rough from the chemo.  It took a while.  The effects of chemo were accumulative, and so a few weeks after my final dose I was still worn out.  From each chemo dose it took me longer and longer to bounce back from it.  As soon as I was feeling well enough do to it, I went away for a few weeks to visit family and friends nearby.  And for the first time in a long time, I had a couple weeks in there where I didn’t have a doctor appointment.  Freedom!  And then it was Christmas season and so on.  So that’s why I didn’t write on the blog during all that time.

I’m now also able to walk up the hill at home.  I stopped being able to do that in about mid October.  It’s not a big or long hill, but I wasn’t able to do it because of the muscle fatigue and pain I’d get.  Now I can run and hoist myself up that hill quickly.  Not run up the hill though.  It’s exciting to be able to do basic things again.  And when that’s happening, I really can’t be bothered to keep up with blogging, emailing, etc. 

I was also able to shower again freely….until now.  In the Radiation pamphlet they gave me at the hospital, it says that I’ll have to be careful with my chest and armpits while doing radiation.  No extreme temperatures, and no direct water shooting out from the shower head.  And also no washing the area with a washcloth.  Perhaps a bath is fine.  In all this stuff over the past months, difficulty bathing for various changing reasons is one of the most annoying outcomes.

I’ve decided to stay in the city at the hospital during the course of radiation.  I’ll be in there Monday to Friday and be home or elsewhere on the weekends. 

For years I’ve had a tattoo.  One tattoo.  Then just before New Years, the hospital phoned and asked me to come in for a CT scan so that they could start mapping things out for my radiation treatment.  I went and did the scan and came out of there with another 6 tattoos.  From 1 tattoo to 7 in 60 seconds.  They tattooed me for radiation.  Who knew?  They are small black spots.  They aren’t small enough though.  One is smack in the middle of where I would have cleavage, if I did have cleavage.  From now on if I wear a low cut top (which I hope to be able to do again in the future), people will probably think I either have a pen mark on my chest or a massive black head.  Too bad they didn’t have other ink colours up for option.  A freckle colour would be a good idea.  Maybe I could get a lighter ink tattooed over top of it once I’m done radiation.  Another tattoo dot is placed 8cm below the cleavage tattoo, between my ribs.  Another is beneath my armpit at the side of my torso, and another one is lower down from that one.  And two again on the other side of my torso.  I’ll get a photo of them as soon as I can find a camera around here.