Radiation: First Half of 28 Sessions
I see that my last update was dated September 20, which seems like a long time ago. It was three weeks after my last chemo infusion. Since then all of my side effects have disappeared with the exception of my fuzzy/numb feeling toes. My strength has slowly returned and a couple weeks ago I realized that I really was feeling very NORMAL. For three weeks now I have been back to doing full workouts at Curves, three days a week, and walking the other three days of the week. This is all very good since fatigue is a normal side effect of radiation and so far, I have not experienced any!
On October 3, I had the “mapping” for my radiation treatments. They made a mold of me in the right position so I can lay in it exactly the same each time. I started the 28 daily sessions on October 12. My regular appointment is 10:24 AM every day. I always go in early, just in case traffic is bad, and work on the group jigsaw puzzle they make available. The actual session only takes less than ten minutes, and the radiation from three angles is for 12, 10 and 19 seconds each. About day 12 my skin started to get a little pink. I have been faithfully using the recommended 99% Aloe Vera gel and Calendula gel three times a day. This is when it may be an advantage that much of the area is still numb from the surgery, so I’m not feeling many uncomfortable sensations.
Every week they take X-Rays of me in position to make sure everything is still being set up correctly. Once a week I also see Dr. Gannett. He answers any questions I have and looks at my skin to see how it is fairing. So far, he is very pleased with how everything is going and how good my skin is tolerating the treatment. He is also surprised that I am not yet experiencing any fatigue, but attributes that to my continued exercising. One thing I learned in our discussion is that the side effects (fatigue and skin irritation) should be gone within three weeks of ending the radiation treatments. November 20 is the last one, so that means I should be in good shape by the second week in December, if not before. Also, my hair is growing back, but can still be measured in 1-2 mm. I'm trying to be patient and know it will take a couple more months to be presentable. In the mean time, my warm fleece stocking caps will have to do.
On November 29 I meet again with my medical oncologist, Dr. Acheson, to discuss the anti-estrogen pills I will need to take for at least five years. I expect I’ll be starting them in early December. That can be the next blog post topic.
It has been fifteen years since we have remained in Portland for the fall season, to enjoy all of the gorgeous foliage colors. We have missed that, so we are really enjoying colorful trees and the nice weather we have also had, up until this week. The rain has now hit. That doesn’t stop me from my walks, however, as I have plenty of rain gear.
I finally did put a personal post on Facebook in honor of “Breast Cancer Awareness Month” to encourage everyone to get those annual mammograms. And, if the results come back with a “Too dense to be sure” comment, have a followup ultrasound, at least.
I’ll make another update when the radiation is finished (11 more to go) and the extra three weeks the side effects could last.
Happy Thanksgiving. Paul and I certainly have a lot to be thankful for; especially my getting back to good health!!
Grace and Paul Pitzer
We hope you will keep checking back regularly to see what is new. I'm always out and about with some camera and love to stretch my skills and add to my volume of work.
Motto: "Pack light and take lots of pictures."