Saturday, March 14, 2009

On The Journey XIII

Two days away from beginning radiation...

I'm scheduled for 35 treatments (5 days a week for seven weeks). It seems like a lot, but it's pretty standard for someone with my kind of cancer--grade 3 (very aggressive) and triple negative (not receptive to hormones, thus no hormone treatment like tamoxifen is possible for me after radiation). This is, basically, our one chance to hit the cancer and hit it hard--if there's any still there after the chemo. We don't know, can't know (there's no test to see if you have any cancer cells floating around in your body), so we have to do all we can.

The procedure itself is like getting an xray. I'm put in position (the techs are guided by the tattooed dots I received during the planning session back in January), which allows the radiation beam to be tightly focused on just exactly where the tumor was, and thus affect the rest of my breast/skin less. The beam is switched on for a few moments, then off. And that's it. As someone said, it takes longer to get ready and then dressed again than it does for the treatment itself.

Side effects--possibly some skin problems like redness, itching, sunburn-like irritation. Sometimes it actually blisters, but that's fairly rare. Fatigue is another one, because the beam does affect the ribs and breastbone, which manufacure blood cells--so if that capability is affected, there are fewer red blood cells (which carry oxygen) floating around, I'll get weary more easily and be less able to bounce back. I'm very much hoping that doesn't happen--I'm just atsrting to get back into my life after chemo, and I don't want to have to cut back again.

I still have some lingering side effects from the chemo. My hair will take another few months to grow back to a reasonable length--I'm at 1/4 inch right now! Peach fuzz, really. The other one that's a bother is tingling/numbness in my fingers and toes--this is from that last med I used, Taxotere, which is known for this. It's also supposed to go away in a month or two.

Otherwise, trying to get back into life, getting ready for the radiation (good book and emu oil at the ready!), and looking forward to spring!!

1 comment:

Patricia Prijatel said...

Good luck with radiation. I also went through this adventure and blog about hormone negative breast cancer at And I am writing a book on the subject. I would love to keep you in mind for a short profile.

Also, radiation was a breeze for me. And my hair grew back curly. (For about a year, then it went straight again, still it was a fun after-effect.)

You are in my thoughts and prayers.


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