August 24, 2021

Today I saw my oncologist and radiation oncologist, so I have some next steps in place. The cliff note version for today’s gratitude is no more chemo. Yay! My oncologist says he hopes I never need it again.

That being said, I am considered high risk for a reoccurrence due to my initial type/size of cancer and that the pathology from my surgery showed that cancer cells were most likely left behind. That means at least six weeks of radiation that will target not just my left breast but the adjacent lymph node regions of my underarm and neck. The doctor wants to make sure they reach “deep” so as not to miss any areas of my chest wall. Fun. Once radiation is done, I’ll start hormone therapy that will last for 10 years. This piece, my oncologist emphasized, was absolutely necessary in the fight against reoccurrence. Once all my treatments are done, I’ll start follow-up visits every three months for two years and then every 6 months for three years. Good thing I like my doctor.

I’m hoping my visits tomorrow with my surgeons end with me getting my bandages and drains removed. I mean, I’m really hoping. Full disclosure: I was told I couldn’t get them wet which means no showering. I’ve been sponge bathing for the last two weeks, and I’m at the point of dreaming about a bath. Our neighbor has a fountain going 24/7 in their pool and I feel like it’s taunting me. I sometimes just stare longingly at our shower.

Besides the need for a dunk under running water, I’m also hoping bandages/drains are removed because they really are getting annoying. And painful. The radiation oncologist pointed out that the visible ridge I see is the metal section of my implants that are used for filling with saline. The binding is so tight that the skin along there has become extra sensitive so that even my clothes rubbing against it hurts.

The lower edge of the bandages are also coming loose and beginning to uncover the drain insertions. I put bandaids along the edge to try to stop it, but they aren’t holding up either. As the drains move more, they’re also starting to ache more, to say nothing about how gross they’ve become. (Sorry if you’re reading this while eating.) At the very least, I need a bandage change. Sponge baths only go so far when you’re wrapped in plastic during 90 degree weather.

At any rate, fingers crossed that tomorrow’s my lucky day. I’ll be extra, extra thankful. For today, I’m grateful to have some next steps laid out that don’t involve more chemo. In the words of my doctor today, radiation should be the easiest of all my treatment steps, so I’ve been through the worst.

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