An Unexpected Journey


Just Me August 24, 2011

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I helped with the children’s ministry at church tonight.   It’s the beginning of the fall session and I will be leading one of the stations when they start in a couple weeks.  I did that a few years ago, but had to drop out because I felt so fatigued from radiation. 

It felt really good to have a few hours to forget about doctors, tests, medical bills, regular bills, and being a breast cancer survivor.  When you have your eyes on a group of kids, you don’t have time to worry about those things.  Plus you get to see those joyous faces.  Kids try to have fun wherever they are.

Now as I write this I am thinking of all you ladies (and guys) who are undergoing treatment right now.  My heart goes out to you as you struggle to get through each day and to reach that last chemo treatment or that last radiation treatment.  You are so strong in spirit and you are my hero.  God bless you all.


Feelin’ the burn June 2, 2011

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2009 Retro Post #11

My radiation oncologist is very direct.  If you don’t want warm fuzzies, he’s perfect for you.  He keeps repeating words like aggressive cancer and describing how bad my skin will be after radiation.  My eyes grow wide as I look at the sheet full of possible side effects.   He even hand wrote more to the page.   I could lose use of a lung?  He says in a matter of fact tone, “you have another one.”  Yeah, that is comforting…not!  I like the matched set.  Thank you.  What about the possible damage to my heart then?  No spare there.  Oh, now he has to point out the shade of bright red that my skin will be.  Thanks.  This is going to help me how?

Call me crazy, but I thought radiation gave you cancer instead of curing it.  Oh, wait…there it is on the page with the possible side effects.  You can also develop other types of cancer.  Nice.  Now I have to listen to risks and odds.  Maybe this guy should have been a mathematician.   His apathy wouldn’t matter in that job.

After he leaves the patient room I feel like I have been in a mental boxing match.  Is he trying to make me upset?  He is nothing like my wonderful medical oncologist.  She didn’t have happy news either, but she at least treats me like a human being.

I have to sign a consent form for the radiation.  Looking over it all again I get teary eyed.  What is wrong with me.  Suck it up girl.  It’s got to be done.  And maybe the list of side affects are similar to medicine.  They have to list it all even if it is not very probable.  And at least radiation just affects part of the body.  Chemo effects everything.  No nausea or mouth sores with my radiation.  That’s a plus.  No needles.  That’s another plus.

I come back to the hospital to receive “markers.”  They use a CT simulation to mark where radiation should be directed.  Since I didn’t do my arm exercises after surgery like I was instructed, I can’t get my arm all the way above my head.  I figure it is no big deal.  Wrong!  I have to lay for a long time with my arms over my head for this procedure.

The next time I come back to the hospital, I go to the radiation department where they work again on the measurement setting.  It is a LONG process.  I have to lay with my arms over my head so long that I want to cry from the pain.  I would have never thought that would be so painful.  All the while they are measuring and talking over me I am very aware of my bare chest.  It’s so weird it’s laughable.

After they get the markings set up correctly, they run the first treatment.  They say it won’t hurt.  That’s good.  I am to hold my breath during some of them.  I am surprised by my reaction.  I want to cry…again!  Gee!  It’s like something is taking over my emotions.  I cry at the drop of a hat now.

I continue to work as I take radiation treatments.  I take them 5 days a week.  It doesn’t take long to receive treatments.  I get use to the routine and become familiar with the radiation staff.

My skin isn’t bad till the last 2 weeks of treatments.  It is disgusting where the skin is breaking down.  I use cut up pieces of old t-shirts like a bandage to catch the oozing.  Fatigue has finally caught up with me too.  All I want to do is rest.  Sleep is top of my priority list.  I have to take a week off from work, but I’m not going to obsess over it.  It’s just one of those things.

I never realized how moving your head and neck moved the skin on your chest until now.  Ouch.  But my treatments are over.  Woo hoo!!!!!!!!   It’s all over!!!!