Sunday, April 27, 2014

A Long Overdue Update


I’m four weeks into radiation therapy.  Only 13 more treatments to go. 

The radiation target is the chest wall where my right breast once was.  I’m red from my clavicle to the middle of my right side. When the doctor saw it on Thursday, his first comment was: “medium rare”.  That area is approaching the deep red of a Red Delicious apple. The good news is that I’m not blistering – yet. The other good news is that the area of the surgery is completely numb so that the only pain is in the surrounding skin. It feels like a severe sunburn; and with my fair skin, I’ve had my share of those.  A couple of Aleve capsules take care of that. 

I’m using Aloe, Miaderm, and Aquaphor on the skin.  I slather one of them on every few hours.  And I really lay it on thick.  I don’t know if that makes a difference to my skin, but I’d rather use too much than too little.   

The doctor says that if I do start to blister, we’ll suspend treatment for a few days to let some healing take place. 

My hair continues to grow slowly and somewhat unevenly.  In some places it is about ½ inch long.  I can pretty much smooth it down now so that I don’t have as much fuzz sticking out from my scalp.  The fuzz just looks silly. 

My eyebrows are back and are dark as they were before.  I hated not having eyebrows. 

Chemo brain is diminishing but apparently not completely gone yet. 

So in general, things continue to go well.  I credit my oncologists for taking good care of me. 

So here’s my cynical description of breast cancer treatment:   

First they fill you with enough poisons to make your hair fall out, your taste buds disappear, your skin dry out, your finger and toenails to flake, and your bones hurt.  Neuropathy of the hands and feet is an added feature. Surgery can occur either before or after the poisoning. Then they cook you until well done. In my case that’s 2.75 hours total (33 5-minute treatments) YMMV.  Everyone involved hopes this is adequate.  Sometimes it isn’t.






Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Radiation Therapy has begun.


On Monday, March 31, I began radiation therapy. I’ll have a total of 33 treatments over 6 ½ weeks.  Monday through Friday. 

The entire process takes 15 minutes or less.  The actual radiation takes 5 minutes.   

I lie down on the mold that was made during the planning session, and the technicians adjust my position so that my three little tattoo dots line up with the lasers.  Then the machine does a CT scan which takes a couple of minutes.  They review the scan image to make sure I’m properly positioned. Then they zap me for 5 minutes.  That’s all there is to it.

After only 3 treatments, there’s no visible effect on my skin yet.  I expect some sunburn-like reddening over time; and hope it gets no worse than that. 

Here’s a link to a Wikipedia article with a photo of the machine that zaps me. It’s a high tech wonder.