Monday I met once again in a consult with Dr. C and his nurse and heard again how radiation “finishes” what my surgery started and how fatigue and sunburn are the only expected side affects I should experience. They said the fatigue with radiation is not as bad as chemo, that‘s a plus! The numbers of treatment have declined from the original proposed 33 treatments to now only 31. That’s like a sale where they mark off .50¢….on a leather jacket.
I went in two days later for a “simulation”. This is where my therapist marked me for precision radiation. A simulation is a CAT scan that creates a 3D image of me to map out my heart and lungs so that those are protected during radiation. We don’t want to destroy any healthy cells that shouldn’t be part of the radiation process. First Jennifer, my therapist, lined me up on the “bed”. I have no clue why they call it a bed as it is unlike any bed I’ve ever slept on. It was hard and uncomfortable, but I digress. She then marked me with an X, with a fine tip marker, where the laser beams in the room intersected me. She applied sticky tape with wires inside them to create borders as the CAT scan doesn’t recognize borders, only bones and tissue. Once the doctor approved the lines and borders, she scanned me. After the scan she took all the metal tape off and tattooed the X marks with a tiny dot in the center of each X. I’m living wild now, I’ve got tats!
I will go in again on the 18th of Dec for another simulation. This will insure that the “map” of my body lines up perfectly with me. Providing this is all perfect, I start daily radiation treatments Dec 21st and will end Feb 3rd. If you’re wondering, like I did... no, they don’t “do” holidays. So my first two weeks will be 4 day weeks versus 5 day weeks. I will still have 31 treatments regardless of the Friday holidays.
The nurse let me know that the first two weeks are the easiest. She said the body can repair itself after each treatment and I will hardly notice any difference. However by the end of the 2nd week, the body runs out of steam trying to repair destroyed cells daily and struggles to heal itself from that point on. That is when I will begin experiencing fatigue. They think I shouldn’t begin any discomfort from ray burns until after the first two weeks, however, as I am fair skinned we will have to “play it by ear” as to how quickly I react to the rays.
I am not allowed to wear deodorant or powder or any other topical solutions on the area to be radiated as it will act like oil on a sunbather’s body and enhance the burn. I learned that I haven’t had to wear deodorant under my right arm since surgery as they removed sweat glands when they removed lymph nodes. This was news to me, but there’s another silver lining. It will take twice as long to use up my deodorant as it has in the past. Think of all the money I could have saved if I’d known that earlier!
Thanks for sticking in there with me, only 6 ½ weeks of radiation. Drug therapy will begin once radiation is done, but, one step at time. Love you all.