Friday, October 5, 2018

Nearing the End of Active Treatment!

Today was day 20/30 of radiation, so I'm 2/3 done!

My routine is the same every day.  It does vary slightly if I have PT beforehand or another appointment after, but the radiation part is the same every time.  I check in and go to the waiting area in the back, change into my beautiful silk kimono and lock my bag into a locker, and then wait, reading on my phone, until I'm called back into the radiation room.

The radiation team is super nice and someone always brings me a warm blanket and tucks it in around my feet while I get "comfy" on the table.

I lay on my back on this cradle (hard foam form), left arm down with my thumb tucked in my waistband, and right arm above my head and bent, head angled to the left and up so that my chin is out of the way of the beams.  My knees go over the blue wedge so I'm a little more comfortable.  My foam cradle is underneath the towel and was made just for me so that I'm in the exact same position every single time I'm there.  (You can see cradles for other patients on the shelves in the back.)  The team gets me in the initial position and leaves the room while the x-ray and radiation are done.

Here's a view of the machine that's used:

The table I'm on raises and lowers, turns and rotates, and the machine in the back can spin around while different parts come over the table.  I also wear special glasses the whole time that help with the breath holds I need to do.  Each time the beams are turned on, I take a deep breath in and hold it for 5-25 seconds (depending on whether it's an x-ray or radiation), keeping my lungs and heart as far as possible from the beams.  Looking through the glasses, I can see a bar that indicates my stomach as I breath, and one that is my goal for the deep breath.  As long as I match the two up when I hold my breath, I'm in the same position each time.  After each small area is radiated, the team re-enters the room, draws on me with sharpie to indicate the area that is finished, adjusts the table and machine, and leaves again.

When my 20-25 minute session is completely done, I head to the changing room, slather cream all over my pink skin, and put on a cheap t-shirt (since both the cream and the sharpie marks come off on the shirt).  Repeat the next day.

I found out today that my last 5 sessions - the week after next - will be "boost" sessions, which means next week is my last week of radiating the entire affected area.  The week after that will be shorter sessions just doing electron radiation along my scar line.

Each evening (on radiation days) I do a lotto scratch-off.  I promised the kids that any money won from the cards will go into our Europe trip savings jar, and so far I've won $62.  It's fun to see the pile of cards shrinking since I know that it means I have fewer and fewer sessions left.

My skin is holding up really well.  I'm pink - kinda sunburned - but my Radiation Oncologist, physical therapists, and radiation team have all remarked on how well I'm holding up.  Please pray that it continues through the last 2 weeks!

My hair is finally starting to thicken a bit, and I'm going to get it trimmed over my ears next week.  It still looks like post-chemo hair, but I'm starting to think that maybe it won't be like that forever.

After radiation #20

10 more radiation sessions to go, and then it's just the monthly Lupron shots and daily Exemestane pills for 5 years.  Active treatment is almost over!

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