Radiation: Observations from the halfway point

Can you believe it? I’m halfway done.

The great news – no major skin problems so far. Maybe it is the buckets of lotions I’ve slathered on multiple times a day? I’m on a rotation of Burt’s Bees, H2O Plus Milk Moisturizer, Miaderm and Aquaphor. (Special thanks to Debbie and my mom for being my suppliers for these!)

As far as pain goes, I’d place my pain as a 3 on a 1-10 scale. Oddly, that pain is coming from inside. I can really feel the inflammation that the radiation is causing inside my body. It bothers me the most when I try to sleep. I have to strategically prop myself up with blankets so I don’t have too much pressure on that irritated side.

The biggest drama we have dealt with is getting me lined up during my treatment. Remember, they have marks on my body to make sure the radiation hits the same spots on my body every time. Some days, I walk right in, plop down and we are done in 20 minutes. Other days, I’m laying on that table in that ice cold room for more than an hour as they try line me up.

We’ve done this almost every other day for a couple of weeks. On Friday, after several attempts to line me up, they finally decided that something must have shifted or changed in my breast. They took me in to get another CT scan to see if it matched up to the original. If it didn’t match with the first scans, they would have to re-map my treatment plan. If that happened, they would have to delay treatment by two days — adding those days to the end of my treatment.

No big deal, right? Only I don’t like delays. I want to be done.

Plus, I have a schedule to keep.

Have I mentioned that I am scheduled to complete radiation on Friday, Sept 13, then I head to Houston the very next Monday for a schedule full of doctor visits at MD Anderson on Tuesday?

Well, that’s the plan. I like plans. There is NO room for error. NO time for missing treatments.

That’s why when all of the talk about re-mapping came up last Friday, I wanted to cry. I didn’t want to try to reschedule all of those appointments after I had JUST gotten them scheduled. It is hard to catch all of those doctors in clinic at the same time. And it’s even harder to have their schedulers call you back.

So, after a quick CT scan, the doctor came in and said everything looked great. It matched up perfectly with the old scan. No need for tears. It was fantastic news, but doesn’t solve the mystery of why we can’t get lined up.

After the CT scan, we walked back into the radiation room. I laid down on the table and lined up perfectly on my first try. The radiation tech said:

It looks like you are a completely different person than when you were in here 30 minutes ago.

The mystery still remains unsolved. But I have lined up immediately yesterday and today, too. It’s been very smooth this week.

On a another note, I met a new friend a few months ago who is also going through this mess. She is behind me in treatment — halfway through Taxol. Remember me complaining about neuropathy? Well, I take it all back. My poor friend is dealing with debilitating pain as a result of the neuropathy. She can’t even take a bath because it is too painful to have the water against her skin.

Please send prayers and good, positive thoughts her way. She’s so close to being done with the hellish portion of this fight, but I’m sure it is hard to stay positive and motivated when you are in perpetual pain.

11 thoughts on “Radiation: Observations from the halfway point

  1. Jenny,
    Three things:
    1. We know you are a woman of many talents, but you may want to quit shifting your body parts around – messing with the techs – at least until you complete treatment.
    2. I’m thinking we need an infographic or two. One to illustrate your entire experience for the benefit of others, and maybe one for the “evolution of hair” that you’ll be growing soon.
    3. What is your new friend’s first name?

  2. Hi Sweetie. Just wondering if you need help in the Houston trip planning (air? hotel?),
    Please let us know what we can do. Love you!

  3. Has your friend considered Gabapentin aka neurontin? It has really helped me with round 3. I can’t drive while I am taking it but it is worth it when the pain is at a 9. I hope she feels better soon and I hope you have perfect appointments from here on out.

    • Hi Beth! I’m the friend Jenny is referring to. I’ve been on Neurontin since 8/16. The neuropathy started on 8/14 in my hands and then affected my feet starting 8/20. Usually the pain is at a 3, but it will go up to a 9 between the hours of 11-2 and if I touch water. I started at 300 mg of Neurontin a day. Now I’m at 900. This week, I switched to Taxotere. As of this week, the pain is skowly getting better. My oncologist has never heard a patient complaining of neuropathy like this on the first round of taxol. Though I read somewhere that younger patients don’t handle the neuropathy that well on taxol (I’m in my early 20s). I’m just praying that my body will handle Taxotere better.

  4. Pingback: Radiation: Three Days + Six More | The Herzy Journey

  5. Thank you for sharing your journey. Sounds like you have quite an arsenal of skin care but I would suggest you check out Jeans Cream (www.jeanscream.com) as another great alternative. They also have a blog sharing personal experiences.

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