To an extent, I’ve been feeling pretty comfortable without breasts. I would still prefer to have real natural breasts, but that isn’t an option. The best thing about not having breasts is that running is so easy. No giggling, bouncing, or that strong stinging pain you get from a rigorous run while wearing the wrong bra. Now that the boob bouncing is gone, my attention really goes to all the other areas that bounce….like my bum, the sides of my waist. Also the backs of my upper arms, but I think that that’s because I have weird and uncomfortable nerve pain in that area. So sometimes when I run it feels like someone is slapping the backs or my arms. Oww. So running gets two thumbs up.
If you weren’t totally convinced yet that I’m a very un-photogenic person, here’s the proof. I love it though. It’s a good face for ringing the bejeebers out of the bell/triangle at the end of radiation and end of 9 months of cancer treatment.
Today I was lucky to have my sweet friend, Jules accompany me for my final appointment and witness my bell ringing. Thank you so so much Jules!
Tomorrow is my last day of radiation. I get to ring the bell at the end of it. The bell signifies the end of radiation treatment. This is a different bell than the one I rang at the end of chemo…different clinic.
Tomorrow is also the last day of my 9 month long cancer treatment. 9 months! Long and intense and fucking awful. I was diagnosed 9 months ago and began treatment a few days after that.
It started with fertility treatment, egg extraction and freezing, complications of fertility treatment resulting in a rough case of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome(OHSS), starting on Depot Lupron which places me in an artificial and temporary menopause but with real and intense menopause symptoms. Then double mastectomy, 2/3 of my lymph nodes removed because the cancer had spread to them, getting a PICC line (port) put in me for administering chemo, chemo, positioning tattoos for radiation, radiation, horrible emotional strain, needles needles needles, my body becoming an object of science and math, tons of side effects from every step along the way, stress, worry, anxiety, job loss, medical tests and scans, hoops of service office and paper work to jump through, financial strain, feeling like my body aged 60 years in a short time and then slowly bringing it back to it’s proper age and functions, life being put on hold for an indefinite period of time. I could go on and on.
Nine months done. That’s it for cancer treatment, except for Tamoxifen. I begin Tamoxifen in a week and I will be on it for the next 5 years. It blocks estrogen. The tumours I had were from estrogen. And there’s also still lots of follow ups. The follow ups are still pretty frequent.
So although the bell at the clinic tomorrow is for being done radiation, it is also for being done cancer treatment.
Unfortunately there’s lots of waiting left to do. Waiting until I can get the go-ahead from doctors to start my life again. Waiting for tests to come and their results. Waiting to start drugs and stop others. Waiting til I can do normal things again, like work and dating and running around topless all day at the park (haha I wish). Waiting til I can move to a city and not be concerned that my doctors aren’t living there too. Waiting to meet with surgeons. Waiting til I can get reconstructive surgery…I need to wait at least a year from when I’m finished radiation because the skin contorts. Waiting til I stop Tamoxifen. Waiting til I can get pregnant (I can’t be pregnant while on Tamoxifen, unless I want children with super powers).
This takes so long. It would have been so much easier for everyone involved if the doctors had just physically examined me on any of the occasions that I begged them too, and diagnosed me properly the first time. How lazy can they be? Do doctors and clinics actually practice “early screening”? Or is all the talk about it in the pamphlets, commercials, and the news just “talk”?
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.
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.
I am finished chemo. I had my final chemo dose 2 days ago. Now I have another 3 weeks of dealing with the side effects, and then after that I am hoping that it will only be uphill from there.
The day after chemo my side effects already started to kick in. That’s the earliest they’ve surfaced while on Taxotere (the current chemo drug I’m on). My mouth is already starting to become bothersome and my taste buds are disappearing quickly. Usually I’d have about another 4-5 days before that would even begin to happen.
*Video part 2 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sJA5IrgerQ