October 4, 2021

Today my doctor gave me this because apparently getting radiation along my collarbone can create a sore throat and the sensation of a lump in the throat. If you’ve followed my blog for very long, you’ll know how not pleased I am about this. Not pleased at all. If you’ve just stumbled upon this post, then know that I am someone who can choke on her own spit. So I don’t like weird throat sensations. That being said, I’m thankful that my doctor said my throat won’t close up or anything. That’s something to hold onto.

However, I’ve decided I’m not going to worry about it. At this point I’m just going to add it to the list of crazy side effects I’ve already dealt with and lived through. And hopefully drinking this bottle of aloe vera water means I’ll barely notice it. If nothing else, it adds to my list of hydrating beverages, right?

September 22, 2021

Well, I was right about my wrist problem. It is De Quervain’s. But I was wrong about the solution. Since it wasn’t getting better, I called my doctor who referred me to an orthopedic clinic where I went this morning. The hand and wrist specialist said that at the stage my wrist was, the splint would no longer work. He did a cortisone shot instead. All I can say is, Ouch.

The upside is that after a couple of days, the shot usually is 90% effective at relieving the symptoms and 50% effective at curing the problem. If it doesn’t cure it, the next step is surgery, so I’m really hoping for a cure. In the meantime, I’ll be thankful for pain relief.

I’m also thankful to have my first radiation appointment done. It was a little longer than it should normally be since they did a little tweaking again. Apparently I hold my breath too deeply. Go figure. At least I won’t need to worry about not being able to hold it long enough. It was fine. Plus they had to draw the radiation parameters on my skin for pictures. I never realized how often Sharpies are used in the medical field. Another go figure. One nice thing about it is that I can see where I need to apply lotion. And it’s way further under my arm than I anticipated.

So, here’s to another day of being poked and prodded but in the right direction. The countdown to Nov 4, my last treatment day, begins!

September 21, 2021

I got a call from my radiation oncologist’s office today with a last minute request to come in for X-rays this afternoon. It was the last step needed before radiation starts tomorrow. I’m scheduled from now through November 4th.

The X-rays were done in the treatment room, so I was able to get an idea of what my treatments will be like. The ceiling is designed to looks like a glass ceiling with the sky and tree branches visible. Music was playing. It was really nice. The techs and I jokes that we just needed someone to deliver margaritas.

I’m thankful I got radiation scheduled. I’m also thankful I got a glimpse of what my daily visits will look like. I think I’m ready. I have skin lotions, protein shakes, and intend to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate (my plastic surgeon’s suggestion).

September 16, 2021

I had my radiation planning session today. It involved a lot of laying down and being still. Not my best posture.

The hardest part of the hour and a half was keeping my arm raised. Even though I had it in an arm rest like in the picture below, my hand still fell asleep and my tight chest muscles burned.

Breast board image I found on Healthline.com.

Part of the process was getting CT scans while in this position that will be used by the radiation team to plan my upcoming procedures. A few times I needed to hold my breath, which will be part of my sessions. Holding my breath will help minimize the radiation effects to my heart as much as possible.

The final part for today was tattooing small black marks on my chest that will be used to position me in the same spot every session. That hurt more than I expected it to. I’m not sure how I feel about having permanent black spots on my chest, but it’s better than permanent cancer. So there’s that.

I’m thankful that things went well today, and I’m hopeful that I can start radiation next week.

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.