Check-ins

So earlier this month I had follow-up visits with both the chemo and radiation oncologists to see how recovery was coming along.  All is going well.  Still need to have patience with my feet and nerve recovery (yes, it may really be somewhere between Feb and Aug before I’m “normal” again). Sigh.  The Doc suggested adding some supplements to encourage nerve healing:  glutamine powder (3g 3x/day in juice), B12 (400 mcg 1x/day), B6 (50mcg 2x/day).  Then I need to watch my feet and hands around cold or ice for a while.  Started on a hormone blocker pill that I’ll take for the next 5 years.  Next month I have a CT scan and blood work to make sure all is well; then a mammogram in February … thanks for the additional healing time before that smash process!  Then I’ll be on the 5 year plan for monitoring and mammograms every 6 months.

Hair is growing!  I currently have very curly, soft “puppy fur” for hair. I had unruley wave before, but this is curly!  We’ll see what happens as it get’s longer.  It’s a darker brown, with a little grey scattered about.  Guess we’ll see if the red comes back with sun exposure or if I have a new color of hair.

I’m back to the CrossFit gym … highly modified.  Thanks to all the great coaches figuring out modifications to the workouts for me.  Heavy bars and hanging from bars still not fun on the hands; running/jumping is nasty on the feet; and my oxygen processing is still slow.  But I got to a 195 lb deadlift (1 rep max), and have gotten some good workouts for where I am.  Making progress, and that makes me happy.  Plus I get to see my favorite people at the gym.

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Healing

It has been 8 days since the last radiation treatment.  The healing process is frustrating.  The area around the boost circle is healed, looking like a tan with a little dry skin.  The boost circle is still red, but the very sore part is about the size of two quarters next to each other.  It’s the new sensitive skin after the blister peeled off.  That area is so sore it is messing with my sleep.  Yesterday, I was so sore, I went to see the nurse.  I was able to get more Soothies Gel Pads.  The old ones lost all their staying power.  The Soothies really help. They keep the area moist and keeps the air away.  The nurse told me all looked good; just need to hang on for a couple more days and it will be healed enough to feel better.

D O N E

My very last radiation treatment was today.  Done!  The staff was so great.  The technicians gave me a certificate of merit and a beautiful lap quilt.  The nurses gave me a send off with hugs, confetti and bubbles.  What a nice end to a not so nice process.  Yes, wonderful people at the Cancer Center.


After treatment I went to Coldstone and got a raspberry cheesecake shake to celebrate.  Now to heal and get back to “normal” life!  I can slather on as much lotion as I want on my poor toasted skin, any time I want.  Yes, the treated area outside of the “boost”area has started to peel and fade to not quite so red and angry.  Hopefully in a week or so it will all be mostly healed and I can get a good night’s sleep.

I have appointments with both the chemo and radiation doctors in December to check in and start on Phase 3 of treatment… mostly monitoring.

Week 6

Almost there. Last full breast treatment was Monday. Good thing: skin is cooked. Worse than the worst sunburn I ever remember. No blisters, but so very bright red. 

Now we are doing focused treatments to the tumor area … a circle about 3″ across. Set-up takes a little longer, with me on my side, laying just right against a foam roll, and not moving. Only one “zap” for about 15 seconds, and done. In principle, outside the circle area should start to heal. After today, three more treatments.

Frustration

Eight more treatments…

Skin – so red, angry, sore and itchy;
Lotions – greasy and goopy to help the skin be tolerable;

Ink stains – on my skin and my shirts from the treatment circle I must maintain;

Camisoles – super soft and stained, to make wearing clothes possible;

Fatigue – that takes pure will to get out of bed in the morning;

Tattoos – three small black dots to line up with the green laser lines for treatment.

Treatment.  Show up each day. “What’s your name?”… “What’s your birthday?”… “What are we treating?” Lay on the hard table; pillow under knees; arms overhead; turn head to right; fit in the mold.

Nudged into position.  Lined up with the green laser lines. Moved: right 11.5; superior 8; lower 96.5; “camera” start angle 98.5.  “OK, here we go”

Counting down; Stay still; breath. Buzz 1… appature change; buzz 2… camera move under left shoulder/appature change; buzz 3…appature change;  buzz 4… camera move a little/appature change; buzz 5… camera move in front of right shoulder/appature change; buzz 6… “You can bring your arms down; all done”  Table lowers. Knee pillow removed; get up off table.  “Have a good rest of your day; see you tomorrow.”

Hot tears of frustration, counting down to done.

Week 5

We are getting into the home stretch.  There are 11 treatment days left.  The radiation bandage was mostly useless.  So they gave me prescription lotion that has silver in it … guess it’s the silver bullet, because it worked.  Really helped the nasty skin stuff.  Now I’m just struggling with what feels like a combination of sunburn and heat rash.  Lots of various lotions and soft camisoles, plus keeping myself distracted.  

My hands seem to be recovered from the effects of chemo.  Feet are still a bit of a struggle.  Still swelling somewhat, and very achey at the end of the day.  Had a wonderful massage this week that focused on legs and feet.  She worked on some nasty knots in my feet, so feeling a little better.  Still issues with feeling … at the end of the day it kind of feels like someone put some menthol on the bottom of my feet.

Last week we had the “Tumor LOC” proceedure.  That’s where they use ultrasound to relocate the area where the tumor was removed, and draw a circle about 5” across on my skin.  They touch it up every treatment day, and I have to maintain it over the weekend.  This is the area where they will start doing the “boost” treatments.  

Like I said:  11 more treatments and counting.  Christmas decorations are up at HomeDepot, but not at Target yet.  So, I must be getting close.

Week 4

Another week with 5 treatment days.  All I can say is that treatment is progressing.  The effects like sun burn are getting more pink and sensitive.  Struggling with issues in places. They gave me Radiabandages to try over the weekend… it’s a square of jell-like stuff to put on the sore area to help sooth and reduce the stinging due to contact with the air.

The fun part of this week was participating in the 5K Bosom Buddy walk for breast cancer.  Kiani, David and a bunch of friends came with me.  I was worried about the length of the walk, but all went well.  That is the farthest I’ve walked in a very long time. And my steps for the day were over 11,600 … again, but farther than I’ve gone in quite a while.  Kiani and I both had a rest in the afternoon.

This next week will put me past the half way mark.  Along with that I have some extra doctors appointments to check on progress.