Today I will check off another day of radiation. After this I will only have three treatments left. Can you believe how quickly that went? We can’t.
My skin didn’t become really painful until this Monday, day 13, so I was lucky. My energy has increased in the last half of these treatments, which is not typical. It knocked me out those first ten days, but I feel much better now. Oh, I still take an afternoon nap and we spend evenings on the couch watching tv, but I don’t feel weak and pathetic any more. Just lazy.
My poor armpit is taking the brunt of the radiation, it seems. It has a lot of problems due to the surgery and the radiation burn is not helping. If my armpit could talk it would be screaming obscenities and I would no longer be allowed in Denny’s. Which would be a shame because this week they introduced their pumpkin pancakes.
The three of us–Banjo Man, daughter Nancy and I–have developed our routines and are getting very good at this. First of all, the drive to the city seems to be getting faster. And it’s a good time to chat. Yesterday I brought a Johnny Gimble cd for the ride home because don’t we all need a little more Texas Swing in our world?
We all love the valet parking at the Cancer Center (I still can’t believe my life includes a Cancer Center). We arrive fifteen minutes before my appointment with the massive Trilogy machine so there is time to change and grab some water and hopefully a packet of Lorna Doone’s before my scheduled time to get radiated.
I have a card that I scan when I arrive. I love this card and feel like I’m in the FBI, scanning my ID in order to enter the secret basement room (yes, I’ve been watching MIND HUNTER on Netflix).
Each dressing room has a bench that stores the johnnies and robes.
I have my favorite print, a white with blue checks. I don’t use the robes with the maroon trim as it amuses me no end to make sure I match by wearing a blue robe. Then I make my way down the hall and around the corner to Waiting Room A where I’ll find Banjo Man reading the newspaper and enjoying a cup of coffee and a complimentary oatmeal raisin protein bar. Nancy will be on her phone and will have saved a seat for me.
Both Banjo Man and NancyK will have snagged a Lorna Doone packet from the tray in case I’m a little nauseous (which doesn’t happen as much now). There is never much of a wait–barely enough time to drink a glass of water (I either read or dreamed that it was important to hydrate and therefore eliminate dead cancer cells with every trip to the bathroom–I have no idea if that’s true but I’m drinking at least 2 quarts of water a day just in case).
Radiation isn’t painful. The three tech people are always kind. But I found it hard in the beginning to bare my poor scarred chest to strangers and–worst of all–tolerate them touching it. It has been that way from the beginning, when the nurse changed the dressing the day after surgery. Having anyone touch my chest immediately brings tears. There are so many different sensations in that area–pain, soreness, itching, aching, numbness–and they vary from inch to inch. I worked hard at touching it myself, having been told to massage the area around the incision with Vitamin E oil. That helped a lot, but like everything else with this disease, it wasn’t easy.
With radiation someone is always drawing on my chest with black markers. They circle the “tattoos” and draw dotted lines. I still hate it but I no longer flinch or cry at the sensation. Sometimes they lay cold sticky pads across my entire chest before the treatments. I eventually became used to that, too.
Every day when I walk in they ask for my name and birth date. The other day I announced myself as “Dolly Parton”, which I thought was funny in a couple of ways. I’m not sure they did, but I have learned that I have to make myself laugh once in a while or I’ll go crazy.
Yesterday I started the “boost” part of this, which is a direct hit of radiation to the area of my incision and about 2 inches around it on all sides. This means my painful, itchy, red, bumpy chest gets to recover. Oh, joy! The doctor made a template for the boost last week and yesterday the radiation techs laid the plastic over my skin (just as you would a quilt pattern), marked the outline of the area with black marker and lined it up with the computer-generated outline on the machine.
And now I have to go, because Nancy will be here in 45 minutes and I still have to shower. After radiation I have physical therapy and then Nancy and I will stop on the way home for an early lunch before she has to go to work.
Another busy morning here in Cancer Land.