Radiation Treatment, Breast Cancer, and a Sense of Humor

Radiation Treatment began for me – the first treatment of 33 was June 11, 2012.  Previously, I had my mapping sessions, tattoos placed, and met with Radiation Oncologist.  Radiation can be very emotional for many women who have gone through surgery and Chemo.  I cried for 3 days after I met with my Radiation Oncologist because it seemed as if I had just ran a marathon, and suddenly someone was telling me I had 10 more miles to run!

On the first day of Radiation, I was extremely nervous.  It felt like I was starting a new job since I would have to be there every day at the same time for 7 weeks.  I received Radiation Treatment at a local hospital, even though the rest of my treatments have been at the University of Michigan Breast Cancer Care Center which is 60 miles away.  Pure convenience made my choice for me.

Arriving at my first treatment, the very nice middle-aged female tech, Pat, told me to remove my clothing from the waist up.  So I did and laid them on a nearby chair and put on a hospital gown.  Just then, Pat says, “Oh your other tech will be Brad.”  Just then Brad appears and is a very attractive, hunky late 30s early 40s male.  First words out of Brad’s mouth were, “Oops, you dropped something.”    I look down and there is my Foam Boob aka Foob lying on the Radiation Room floor!   I busted out laughing and said, “That broke the ice” and Brad says, “Oh, we see all kinds of things in the Radiation Room!”

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Please check out my Online Store at www.hellocourage.com    I have some items for Radiation that will be helpful to you.

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Radiation is a lonely experience.  Although Chemotherapy is hellacious and watching those poisonous drugs go into your body is extremely horrifying, the Chemo infusion experience is very personal and caring with a lot of human interaction.  With Radiation, you have little human interaction, and the rest is just you and the machine that hovers over you and moves all around.   The first day takes more time because the Radiation Oncologist has to check the alignments, pictures need to be taken, and extra care is needed.  On Day Two, it is a “slam bam thank you ma’am” kind of experience!   You get in, take your clothes off, get under the machine, and boom, it does its thing.

The rest of the day you have to slather your breast area numerous times with lotions and potions to prevent skin damage!  There is Aloe, Miaderm, My Girls Cream, Jeans Cream, Calendula Cream, Emu Oil, to name a few!   The other adventurous part of Radiation is you should NOT WEAR A BRA to avoid irritation which means no prosthesis!  Now I have one big boob, and one boobette.  It is almost the first day of summer and has been over 90 degrees on many days.  How is a woman to disguise that fact?

One solution I real about was to wear a 100% cotton tank top underneath a Sports Bra that is a size too big for you.  I have chosen to do this for awhile and see how it works out.  Since I can’t wear my nice supportive bra with my $400.00 prosthesis, this Foam Boob and sports bra is a source of much entertainment!   Foob over Boobette is riding just under my chin while Big Boob is hanging just above the waist!  You have to have a sense of humor to deal with this!  Today, I found myself reaching down my tank top in a public place to shove Foob down and it popped out under Sports Bra!  I mean, you never know where that Foob will end up.  They have a life of their own!  Also, I have been trying to come up with an ingenious way to carry my purse over my chest in an inconspicuous way.

Scarves are another solution, but since I already am wearing my hot wig, two tank tops, a sports bra, a jacket or sweater to help with coverage, adding a scarf in 90 degree weather is strictly to mop up the sweat!    Another coverage solution are vests which are more difficult to find in summer fabrics than winter fabrics.  Wearing my goose down padded vest with nothing underneath would be cooler than what I am wearing!

One side effect of Radiation is fatigue.  Of course there is fatigue. I don’t think it has anything to do with the Radiation Treatment killing your cells. Duh, fatigue is from driving back and forth to daily treatment, dressing and undressing, slathering lotions and potions, and trying to tame Foob and Big Boob into some kind of order!   I didn’t need a scientist or a doctor to figure that one out!

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9 comments

  1. Oh, so much to look forward too! I saw my surgeon yesterday. She is so very supportive and kind, taking time to help me thoroughly understand what I am about to go through with the mastectomy. Well, something must have not sounded quite right about one of my questions because she looked at me with her own look of confusion and concern and said, “Your breast will be gone.” I almost laughed except of course that’s not actually funny. I had been asking about a reconstruction concern. Then I realized, maybe at some point she knew I needed to hear someone actually say this! What you wrote about Radiation treatment was so amusing! And yet again, I have to say about something not funny at all! Thanks for helping me find a laugh in this. Good luck with your foob behaving itself today!

  2. Hi Denise. I stumbled upon your blog while searching for info on AC which I’ve just begun. I will be doing AC and herceptin/taxol. Not fun but I’m determined to get through it. Reading your blog is giving me hope. Thank you for sharing so honestly what it’s like. I love your sense of humor. I’ll definitely be checking back….Take care!

    • Hi Sheila, thanks so much for commenting! Sounds like we are on the same road, I am
      just ahead of you. And your determination to get through it makes me know you will!!
      I am so grateful I can give you hope! In spite of all of it, I am feeling better every day.
      Although it hasn’t been an easy journey, it is one that I’ve learned so much I don’t think
      I would trade it for the knowledge I have gained. Also, I never thought I would ever say that
      one, but I just did!
      If I can help in ANY WAY, encouragement, tears, anger, whatever, feel free to email directly at
      b4Denise@hotmail.com
      Starting A/C, losing your hair, and getting through A/C is the worst time. Once you get through
      that part, it will get easier and more tolerable. My best to you! Denise

  3. So well written and so true! I especially love the part about radiation being like having 10 more miles to run when you’ve already done a marathon. That is dead on. I’ve been through chemo like a champ, but the radiation decision has been excruciating. I think it’s just for that reason, I’m tired of being beat up and want to be healthy again.

    • You know, I cried more during radiation than I ever did during Mastectomy and
      chemo. It all came tumbling down. This is so common – I hear it from many
      women that it is such an emotional time… I so understand your line “I’m tired
      of being bea up and want to be healthy again.” Sending a hug your way! Denise

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