(Near – Hopefully)-Future Radiation Therapy

New Form of Radiation Therapy Has No Side Effects

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100th Post: I Wore a Bra Today…

…all day, without padding my nipple with a nursing pad, and not once did my nipple harden and hurt for no discernible reason!

Well, not until I thought that it hadn’t and then, of course, it gave me a Zotz just to remind me it was still there.

I was composing this post in my head on my commute home, and let me tell you it was clever!

But, of course, after getting home, putting food stuff in the kitchen, realizing I left my iPad at work (confirmed by Find iPhone on my phone), getting out of work clothes and into snugglies…

…all that cleverness has evaporated.

Add to that evaporation the tiredness from the Tamoxifen (less than a week in and on only 5mg a day, for those in the know – does not bode too well going forward, eh?) and articulate speech goes nigh out the window.

That bra Also did Not hurt in either axilla – a definite problem the last time I wore one, so…

snoopy-happy-dance

Happy Dance!

Okay, theoretical Happy Dance (no Actual dance cuz of Tamoxifen fatigue, among other side effects already, to be shared in upcoming “Tamoxifen Journal” posts).

Or at least (hopefully) for another month or so until I have more surgery – possibly going in through the nipple(s), sending me back to step one with it(them)…

…but still!  I had today!

Copyright Ridingthebcrollercoaster.com 2012-2013 All Rights Reserved.

Late for a Surprise Purpose: My Favorite Cigarette-Seller

First, let me say I’m still nicotine-free.

In fact, today is 135 days CFT!

No Smoking

Now, on to the point of the post:

I’ve been wigged lately (do a search on the tag “Tamoxifen;” there will be more posts with this tag soon).

This morning when I woke up I couldn’t get going – for no particular reason that stood out to me.  I didn’t even get out of bed until 7:30am, went downstairs and, while coffee was brewing, put together my supplements for the day (including the new ones I got yesterday to deal with common side effects of the Tamoxifen I’m starting Friday night).

Then I went out to the garage formerly-smoking area and watched a bit of news while sipping on my coffee.  For some odd reason, I just couldn’t get my ass moving to do the morning leaving-the-house-to-go-to-work deal until the clock showed 8:00am (the time I Really Should be getting in my car to drive to work).  Weirder still is that I wasn’t even stressed about it.

I went upstairs to do a super-quick clean-up, got dressed in clothes that are too tight ‘cuz I’ve gained 20 lbs during my cancer treatment so far – but that’s a Whole Nother (yes, I know, not a word – whose blog is this, again?  Right, thanks!) series of posts – took my morning meds and headed downstairs to make the day’s second cup of coffee (the one that goes to work with me).

Made the coffee, got in the car, turned the car on, realized (as I had seen last night coming home from group, but was no longer foremost in my mind after a night’s sleep) that I had to put gas in the car before I went very far or I wouldn’t get anywhere at all.

Headed to the gas station, and went inside the building because strangely enough the pump registers at this particular gas station don’t work with my debit card (a debit card that works Everywhere Else I use it to pay for stuff – who the hell knows?).

And I run smack into Roz, my favorite person from my former cigarette shop near my house (former because, of course, I don’t smoke anymore – much praise on this account is still quite welcome).

She and I talked for a few with her telling me I’m facing this cancer with grace and that I look great (I told her she caught me on a good day, despite being wigged lately – but maybe it was just running into her).  She is such a warm, sweet woman and apparently the joy she lavished on me this morning is still doing its thing.  Thank you Roz – I’m grateful for you today!

So, I guess what I’m getting at is maybe I was supposed to be at that gas station at that time (and Not earlier which I would have been had I been out of the house at my usual time) so seeing Roz could bless my day, and I didn’t even know it.

Oh, and I was only 5 minutes late to work too!  Score!

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To Schedule or Not To Schedule, That is the Question

I’m not sure I still feel the need to document my schedule as specifically as I have been lately.

Clock

It felt important to me to share with those who (it’s been said to me numerous times) “had no idea” of the degree of chaos and intrusion into one’s normal life that cancer and its treatments cause.  The craziness that ensues from trying to work full-time through radiation (I didn’t quite make it, but didn’t realize until I was almost done with radiation how many people don’t even attempt it!) is really of the batshit-insane variety, and not only did I post for some sympathy (yeah, at some point – well lots of points – this Is actually about me!), but Also to let other people know when I say I don’t have time and energy to see them/do whatever . . .

. . . that there are some times in life when what gets accomplished gets whittled down to the serious bare necessities, and going through radiation therapy while working Is One of Those Times!

In fact, if it weren’t for Hubby, I may well have had to ask for help keeping food in my house.

Fairly quickly, my life became about 3 things and 3 things only:

three-fingers

– Cancer Stuff:

Radiation Therapy
Radiation Oncologist Appointments
Physical Therapy
Acupuncture
Support Group

– Work

As much as I still could, as I went through the 7 weeks

– Sleep/Rest

That was it.

Now that I’m through those 7 weeks, it will take me some time to transition out of that mindset . . .

And I already feel some better (though I don’t yet trust that feeling), not having those 5 additional deadlines in my schedule every week – and knowing the physical symptoms will take weeks to months to fully resolve (both skin issues and energy levels).

This morning was, well, just weird:

– being allowed to apply antiperspirant (at all) and body lotion (right after my shower)

– not having to leave the house until 8:00am

– not having to wear something I could pull down (if a dress) or a shirt I could take off, in other words Not having to wear something in which I could easily expose the girls without having to gown up (sorry, I’m just not a gown girl, for various reasons – this may or may not become a separate post).

You see, it seems to be part of conventional wisdom that it takes six weeks to make or break a habit.  Doesn’t sound right to you?  Okay, this is me Googling it.

My point is that the 7 weeks of my radiation therapy is just enough time for things like not applying antiperspirant, or not applying anything to my underarms and no lotion on my body directly after showering – to stop feeling weird and wrong, and something I have to think about (not doing).  And now I have to work at recreating those habits – recreating those parts of my normal life.  But that still won’t take up the time (and hopefully the energy either) that the radiation therapy took.

So, we’ll see whether I feel like continuing the schedule thing as I have been.  If I don’t, maybe I’ll have time to write some other blog posts, parts of which have been sitting hidden online as drafts for a while.

<shrug>

Radiation Therapy Journal – Day 28 – Friday December 7, 2012

Treatment Notes:

– Today is my last day of “regular” radiation therapy, and next Monday begins my “boost” radiation therapy.  Up until now the radiation has been spread over my whole boob, which actual tissue is farther and wider than one might think (the delineated soon-to-be radiation “no fly zone” stretches – measured laying on my back with both arms bent back up over my head – from the center of my sternum all the way around to the center of the left side of my body, and from a point along the outside edge of my boob level with the top of my sternum down to an inch and a half under my inframammary fold.).  Starting Monday, the 1.8 Gy fractionation per treatment spread across the whole boob becomes a 2.0 Gy fractionation per treatment concentrated in the tumor bed only.  Where the whole boob deal was administered from above-and-down-from-the-bottom-right (the machine emitting the radiation was positioned basically above my stomach and pointed just “south” of my armpit) and from below-and-from-the-top-left (the machine is slightly below me angled up from just “south” of my armpit pointing basically toward my stomach) (both of which angles if the depth were miscalculated would harmlessly shoot away from my body into the open air, the boost part will be straight down into my body from above (I’m imaging from somewhere above the left side of my body angled some top-to-bottom, left-to-right way entirely through my body front to back – I’ll know more on Monday when it actually happens), carefully (I sure fucking hope!) calculated to hit the bottom of the tumor bed, but no farther down into my body.

– Oddly enough, with the first blast of down-from-above today, I got some pain where the my ribs connect to the top of my sternum.  Also, as I’m wearing a bra today for the first time in more than a couple days (since the increased pain lately made me wonder if I should be dealing with gravity more deliberately), but I’m finding it generally uncomfortable, slighty cutting into me on the side where I’m more swollen, and then there’s the rubbing on the nipple.  Welcome back to damned-if-I-do, damned-if-I-don’t.

Side Effects:

– Fatigue/lightheadedness – Seems to be a regular deal these days having this hit me while I’m walking from treatment out into the parking lot to go to work.  I’m not sure if it’s one or the other, or both.  I can’t always necessarily separate them (not that I’m trying so hard to do so.)  Thankfully, when I sit down in the car to drive to work, my mind is all there and I’ve not felt like I would be a danger to myself or anyone else (or I’d not drive until I was safe).

– Just plain fatigue – yeah, I’m typing this and it’s only 12:35pm.  Seriously?  That’s it?  Time’s now going backwards, right?

– When I got home and got ready to do my evening gooping, I stopped at the exposing the boob part, since mine had (guess I wasn’t going to get away without it after all) gone full red – like lobster colored.  Fabulous, my last mother-fucking day of full-boob radiation.  Plus…

– more numbness (means more swelling, or more concentrated swelling is now interfering with nerve conduction) and more overt swelling/pain in my axilla

Copyright Ridingthebcrollercoaster.com 2012 All Rights Reserved.

Radiation Therapy Journal – Day 27 – Thursday December 6, 2012

Treatment Notes:

– Okay, today I got a real zotz when the treatment first started, straight through my nipple, then it went away and didn’t hurt anymore.

[Right, sorry, “zotz.”  Okay, so I tried to find the definition of this word I always thought was Yiddish, but I’m not so much finding an actual definition in a casual web search.  So I’ll define it for you as I’ve always used it and known it to be used, so you know what the hell I’m trying to say.

A “zotz” is a sharp, stabbing or burning pain that comes on instantly and is gone almost before you actually realize it’s there, but leaves an echo behind for a bit.]

Side Effects:

– Tired (come on, you’d wonder what was going on if I didn’t feel the fatigue anymore).

[But of course that’s also not surprising given my 11:00pm actual bedtime last night.  No, 7 hours isn’t enough sleep for me when I’m Not in primary cancer treatment – it’s Definitely not enough now.]

– more pain than I’ve been having the last few days.  Not entirely surprising – I’m extra tired today and that always makes things hurt more, and I got manhandled pretty good yesterday (which was necessary, but still made me hurt more).  So early to bed and maybe tomorrow will better.  At least tomorrow will be Friday, which is Always a good thing!

Copyright Ridingthebcrollercoaster.com 2012 All Rights Reserved.

Radiation Therapy Journal – Day 26 – Wednesday December 5, 2012

Treatment Notes:

– Again, really nothing to feel during treatment, although once they got me into the position they wanted me in, I felt kinda tweaked.  But we can do anything for 5-10 minutes, right?

Physical Therapy:

– today kinda hurt – I’m having some increased swelling, including some into my arm, but certainly into my axilla and down the side of my body.  She also got rid of some adhesions underneath my nipple scar – breath in, breath out, she’ll stop in a minute.

– PTher is also going to start the process of getting me a sleeve.  You see, one of the fun things about this cancer and its treatments is the risk of lymphedema in the affected arm (for me, that’s left) . . . in hot weather, when ramping up exercise, just being at altitude, or plane travel . . . For The Rest Of My Life.  Woohoo!   So they have these spandex or lycra or something sleeves to add some compression to help the lymph system drain more normally.  Though I haven’t had lymphedema in the arm, I could start, at any time.  Of course, sometimes if I need to wear the sleeve, it’s possible that fluid can get stuck down in my hand and cause my hand to swell – more fun – so I’ll have to be prepared with a glove too.  Dontcha wish you could be me?

– On the plus side, however, when I first started getting PTher, she said a lot of people like to do it at the end of the day, then go home and relax.  It turns out that the lymphatic system is very shallow under the skin.  Therefore, very little pressure is needed to move the lymph fluid through the system.  The result of this information is that lymph drainage feels like a very light swedish massage (over the affected parts of the lymph system) and is very relaxing.  Unfortunately for me, because they start early, their “last appt of the day” is nowhere near late enough to be after I’m done with work.  But today, I’m not going to work (same with two weeks from now), so I can enjoy the relaxation of my PTher (after the pain) and go home to nap (after breffast/brunch of course – see my schedule for this week).

Side Effects:

– Tired (yes, I’m getting as bored typing it as you are reading it) – this time it hit me on my way to the car.

– More pain today, though not entirely unexpected after I’ve been (necessarily and as gently as she can) manhandled.  Of course I don’t want adhesions under my scars, of course I want to minimize the tissue damage my treatments necessarily cause.  So I went home (eventually – after brunch & a quick apple-acquisition stop) and lay down – that always helps the pain.

Copyright Ridingthebcrollercoaster.com 2012 All Rights Reserved.