Cancer Day 163 / Rad Session 0/20: Radiology Planning Session

I’m feeling knackered. It’s been a fairly emotional few days and mostly due to the stress of my impending radiation treatments. I made the mistake of reading an article in the Daily Mail (yes I know Rich, I shouldn’t read it!) and it really scared me. The woman was somehow my exact age and grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, an hour from where I did. There were photos of her having a deep red sunburn and flesh that look melted off. 🙁 I shared the article with my Radiographer last night and she assured me that my story will write itself much differently.
So in order to have radiation, I had to have a ‘Radiology Planning Session’ where they marked me up. They usually prefer to put a tiny tattoo of a dot to help the machine know where to line you up at, one on each side of your body, just down from each breast and then one in the middle of your chest.

I refused.

I don’t want or need another reminder of breast cancer. So I opted for permanent marker with clear stickers over them. We will see how we get on as I’m fairly allergic to adhesives. It pulls my skin off 🙁
I had the radiology planning session this morning and I feel a bit better knowing what will happen. Because my cancer was in my left breast I’m having what’s called ‘Heart Saving Radiotherapy’. I literally use a diving/scuba snorkel where I breathe through it and hold for 20 seconds, thus pushing my heart down and away from my breast. It was a bit claustrophobic at first as you have to wear a nose plug, you’re laying on your back with your arms above your head in a weird pose (obviously nude from the waist up) and this machine allows you to breathe in only so far and then shuts the air off, so that you’re holding your breath at a very specific figure. They did dozens of measurements of my breath, photos of me on the table, and took a CT of me marked up and in position to help them determine how much and at what angles I should be having the radiation. That’s when the machine blasts me with radiation from one angle, and then rotates around and gets me from the other side. My doctor is leading the research into this new way of delivering left-breast radiation. Makes me very very happy that I’m able to have such amazing treatment!!
The other news that we received is that it’s not 15 days, but 20. I’ll have 15 days of whole breast radiation, and then the last 5 will be targeted to just the area where my cancer came out, and they call that the ‘boost’.
As we are super concerned about more side effects to my ordeal, we learned that towards the end of the second week my skin will be turning pink and will start to disappear roughly two weeks after radiation ends. It will cause fatigue, on top of the fatigue I already have from chemotherapy.
But this one should be short-lived and should only last a few weeks after radiation ends.
Oh and the last bit of a news….I won’t be able to breastfeed on my left side ever again. It does make me very sad. They said that the surgery itself would have messed up the milk pathways and that radiation destroys any chance of feeding from it again. I know I can feed from my right, but anyone who has breastfed for any length of time knows that is going to be very difficult. Again I’m counting my blessings, but I loved feeding Evie and I hope I’m still able to feel some of that again if I ever have more children.
So I start radiation on Monday. The first one takes 1.5 hours and then after that I should be in and out within 30 minutes each day.
I’ll be done with radiation by Thanksgiving and then I can use December to heal.

Feeling: Anxious