March 6, 2020 - It's a Wrap!
It's a wrap. I am finished. Yesterday was my very last day of radiation. As I checked out of The Whitley, it was almost bittersweet. Almost. It was the last day for me to lay on that clinically hard table, take deep breaths on command, and be zapped. My radiation treatments can take 15 minutes to 45. It all depends on how well I behave, LOL. When I am asked to take in a breath, if it is not the perfect amount, I hear commands over the speaker such as: "Let a little out" or "A little more" or "take in more breath" It was actually harder than it sounds. There were days when I got it just right every time and felt like I WON! Most days consisted of multiple tries of holding the right amount of breath in my lungs. So, yesterday when I took in that last breath and the machine began zapping, I was doing the happy dance in my head.
How am I doing?
As expected, radiation has burnt my skin, but it will heal. I am very lucky. There are many who experience peeling skin during radiation. It is like peeling from a sunburn, but the layer of skin beneath is not ready to be exposed. It is very painful. I am thankful that did not happen to me and skin did not peel during radiation. I will continue to apply the medicated lotions to my skin as they can now heal in solitude, no longer disrupted by more radiation beams. My biggest malady that I continue to battle is the stiffness and pain in my joints. This is not due to radiation, but it is definitely a lasting gift from chemotherapy. When I first crawl out of bed (yes that is accurate...crawl), it takes me a bit to get moving. I experience the same when I sit for a bit. When I first stand, I have to pause and begin to walk gingerly and slow.
It’s ironic. Before my breast cancer diagnosis, I was a fast mover, fast walker, talker, and thinker. I walked with purpose, even if I was walking the wrong way! Chemo slows you wayyyy down. Thankfully my talking and thinking are back to warp speed (almost). I'm not sure if my walking will ever catch up, but I will try.
I am told this may improve over time. At the present, it gives me a great lens to experience what true aging feels like at the young age of fifty! I certainly am more empathetic to folks who move just a bit slow. I have joined them.
What's next for me?
I will see my oncologist in early April. It will begin my routine of visiting her every 3 months. Every 3 months for the next 10 years. This is when I will find out what oral medication that I will have to take daily. I am told that I will be on this medication for 10 years. The intent is to quell any recurrence of cancer. At this upcoming appointment, they will take blood to determine if I am....
At this upcoming appointment, they will take blood to determine if I am in menopause.
This is something that I did not mention previously. It felt like TMI, but heck, I've shared so much, does it really matter. One of the blessed side effects of chemotherapy is the early onset of menopause, regardless of age. Now, when I saw that side effect, I thought, "well at least there is a positive! I've got to get something good out of this!" Silver linings. They are always there if you look for them. Darn it, I have to take chemotherapy, at least let it put me in menopause. How fantastic would it be to never have to visit with Aunt Flo every month.
We do "think" I am in menopause, but the blood test will confirm it. It is important as it dictates the type of drug that I will have to take. It all comes down to my body's production of estrogen. I have read up on these drugs and then stopped. There is no sense in worrying, until I know which one I will be on. Sadly, these are not gentle drugs, so I may have some side effects or maybe not. We will see.
I will update again after my next appointment. Until then, I am trudging along. I am back to work, continuing to heal, slowly growing my hair, and working on my kinks like the Tin Man.