Radiation treatment follows certain protocols. My treatment is at the MD Anderson satellite here in Albuquerque. After meeting with the radiation oncologist, Dr. G, I have my simulation appointment. This includes a CT scan, painting on the bull’s eyes with magic marker and tape, measuring for an arm mold for placement.
My breast is bare to three people. Since it has already had a mammogram, an ultrasound, a stereotactic core biopsy, wire placement and surgery, it is beginning to feel like community property and is no longer shy. Now it has war paint so is feeling pretty bold.
Next the experts will do their calculations, the mold will be made and I will be ready to go with the three week plan plus a extra week to zap the surgical site. This means treatments five days a week and with the extra week, it will be four weeks or twenty treatments.
My choices were the standard six week plan, the three week plan at double dose or the one week plan that includes inserting a catheter into the breast by the surgeon( imagine the arrow through the head in the really old movies). Radiation seeds will be placed in the catheter twice a day for five days. This was not for me. I did meet an 83 year old woman who was fine. She said it was uncomfortable but she was glad to get it over with.
MD Anderson has Kurig coffee so they get my vote. I always have a cup. It insures staying awake on my drive home.
Treatment is quick. I have number 12 tomorrow. I listen to favorite music as I take my Mini on its little road trip. Arrive, show my cancer card to reception, check on the lonely fat goldfish in its big tank, make my coffee. Next is patient changing, coed with private stalls for changing into gowns. Waits are short. A good place to compare notes with other patients.
Staff are always friendly and supportive. They take my card. I lay on the table, arm up in the mold, breast bare, bull’s eyes clear. Staff leaves, zap one side(this side has a little sigh in the machine), machine rotates over me, zaps the other side(no sigh). Done. 5 minutes?
My card is next to my coffee and my locker key which is attached to a miniature tennis shoe. I change. Back in the car and home to rest.
I had a rocky start to treatment in that I was trying to do to many other things during treatment. I was extremely tired and discouraged.
The following routine works well for me. I have much more energy on weekends and feel good. I wake, make coffee and journal in my favorite spot(this is leisurely). Shower and dress routine. To Defined Fitness for Tai Chi, M-W-F. or silver sneakers classic workout( a good thing)on T-T. Then home for lunch and a rest. Drive to treatment. Home. Rest. I’m good!
Remember I am also dealing with severe RA and an unfinished thyroid cancer treatment. I think most of us have those complicating extras.
The exercise is guaranteed to cut the fatigue, a major side effect of radiation. It makes me feel better.
My skin seems to be doing well. Some get painful redness like a bad sunburn. I am fortunate so far. A dear client and friend, Julie sent me this Gel. It is excellent and helps me. I put it on when I wake up. Shower it off for treatment. Put it back on when I get home.
Tuesdays I see Dr G. Thursdays, x ray day. This Tuesday I will have another CT scan for machine placement for the surgical site zap week.
Radiation treatment is a good time to take care of your body. Mine appreciates it. My whole body had been through a lot of stuff. There is more to come. It is a good time for love and respect to yourself as it’s your own body that gets you through this. I have a great respect for mine.