FOUR TREATMENTS LEFT!!! Not that I'm counting down or anything. Radiation is almost done which means my treatment plan is nearly completed! As I had mentioned in an earlier post I am doing six weeks of radiation (that works out to 30 treatments). I am nearly done! So I thought it was about time I shared with you all what radiation is like.
Every week day (minus holidays) I go in for my treatment. I lay perfectly still and they line me up to the radiation machine. The machine itself moves around me and I have to hold my breath each time it zaps me (okay its not actually zapping me but I obviously don't know the proper lingo here so just go with my terms). I have to hold my breath to keep my rib cage up higher to avoid the radiation from hitting my heart as much as possible due to my cancer having been on my left side. I hold my breath six times and the actual treatment itself only lasts about 15 minutes from the time I enter the room to leaving. So it is really quick and during the treatment I feel nothing.
This is what I have been doing every day for the last five weeks. Today though was the first day of the change in my treatment. These last five treatments are only going directly to the surgery bed or where my cancer had directly been. This means I no longer have to hold my breath during the zaps (yay). It still takes about the same amount of time though. Just four more like this and it will be done.
Now lets talk side effects because it isn't cancer treatment without some nasty side effects!!! The first of course is fatigue. This is nothing new. I've been fatigued since starting chemo in October. With radiation being every day it never really lessens at all like it would with chemo. I'm extremely exhausted all of the time. I've been pushing through it as much as I can and I have been exercising lots so that helps but sometimes it is just too much. Sleeping doesn't ever make me feel less tired, its just a constant state of feeling exhausted. The other biggest side effect I've been dealing with is the skin burn. Like a sunburn but worse! The burn only really started to get bad last week and this week it has been pretty terrible. It is pretty much the entire left side of my chest and left underarm that is getting the radiation. So that whole area is what has a burn. Most of it is just red and a really itchy. If you have ever had a tattoo heal and have dealt with the extreme itch that comes with that you will understand. However, the underarm area is getting to be very painful. Due to the location and the skin rubbing against itself it has become very irritated and will likely break open. It hasn't yet but the radiation techs seemed pretty sure it will considering how it looks now. Its very painful and uncomfortable. I have been putting a special lotion on it and this week started using saline as well which is supposed to help the skin heal. It is really bad though and makes it hard to sleep as it wakes me up lots. That all being said though, that area is done getting the treatment so it is now on the path to healing so hopefully in a few weeks it won't be so bad.
The side effects of course really suck but I remind myself this isn't half as bad as chemo was so I can for sure make it through this last little bit. It is also so much easier now being able to see a definite finish line. I mean I say that and of course my first thought is that cancer could come back but that is not for sure and right now I have beat it. I am much stronger than cancer. I need to remember things like that when the fear starts creeping in.
There is still a lot that I am dealing with on the mental side but remembering what I've been through and how I beat cancer is what I need to focus on more. This is a lot of what I have learnt through my therapy. I'm slowly feeling better mentally. There is still some work that I have to do myself but I won't need to see the psychologist as regularly now. This by no way means that my recovery is done, I honestly don't think it will ever be fully done. Does anyone really ever completely get over having cancer? I highly doubt it. This is a part of my story now and I will always be dealing with that in some way. There is still so much uncertainty to come. I think the biggest worry I have now is if we will be able to have a second child. I worry about it but I also know there is nothing I can do about this now, it will be a few years likely until we could even start trying for another baby and we won't know anything until then. I guess sometimes I just think about all the aftermath of cancer. What will it mean for my future? I can't know that right now of course but its these thoughts that bother me. Along with the grief of the entire situation still. I am getting much better at handling it though. I have better tools for when these thoughts start to come up so they don't become completely consuming now.
Like I keep saying though, I need to focus on the right now. Right now I am cancer free and almost done my treatment which will give me greater odds of not having a relapse. I am finally on a path of a much healthier lifestyle, one that I can teach my daughter as she grows up. I'm slowly feeling and LOOKING like myself which really helps as the physical changes have been one of my biggest obstacles. On May 21, 2020 I will be done with cancer treatment and I will finally get to move forward with my life. Like I said cancer won't be over for me, it will still take up a lot of my mind but I will slowly get back to a more normal life without treatment and with hair!
If I haven't mentioned it before (just kidding I say it all the time) Clara is so amazing. She has kept me so strong and I am so excited to get back to my normal energy levels so I can keep up with the kid! Mommy isn't sick and is almost done fighting.