Radiation Therapy – How it’s Going.
So far, I’ve had 12 radiation treatments. It’s both easier and harder than I expected. The treatment itself is easy. It’s the getting up early, getting ready, and going somewhere every day that’s hard. Some days I have the energy to do it and some days I just don’t.
The radiation treatment itself is quick. I change into a gown and wait until a technician calls me back. Once in the room, we confirm my name, date of birth, and the area of my body that is receiving treatment. Then, I lie down in the form that we made during the mapping process.
Next, the machine moves over me and is aligned using red lasers and the sticker that’s on my chest. The technicians tug on the sheet that I’m lying on to make sure I’m exactly in position per the mapping. Once that’s done, I lie very still, the technicians leave the room, the machine lights up, starts whirring, and moves around me. My radiation treatment and/or X-rays occur.
The entire process takes less than 15 minutes. I get dressed and catch the next bus home. It’s so easy and a little like a human toaster oven now that I think about it.
Fatigue is a common side effect of the treatment, but that’s usually later in the treatment time frame. I noticed it in my first week of treatment, so it wasn’t because of the radiation. Fatigue from treatment usually starts later, the second week.
When my treatment started, I wasn’t used to going out every day, the pandemic and my recovery from the surgery kept me from being active. I was out of shape.
Going out every day has been a stretch for me. Somedays, I get home from therapy and plop on the sofa, depleted. On the days when I do have energy, I go for a walk or get chores done around the house. It depends on the day.
Another side effect is skin changes. I use a prescribed steroid cream on the field of treatment every day. Early on, around the third treatment, my skin became itchy and sensitive. Now that I’m twelve treatments in, my skin is beginning to change. I have a crusty patch, a flaky patch, a large area that’s red, and one area that is becoming tan.
So far, my side effects have been manageable. I feel lucky and grateful to be tolerating the treatment so well. That said, I’ve been warned several times that the side effects continue to progress a week after treatment ends.
Whether it’s taking care of my skin, getting extra rest, or setting boundaries on my time and energy; self-care has been the key to this entire cancer project. It’s much more of a self-care project than a cancer project.
The lesson this week is to be gentle with ourselves. Let’s meet ourselves where we are. Let’s stop pressuring ourselves to be productive when what our bodies really need is rest. Self-care isn’t selfish. It’s the care we give ourselves so that we can show up fully in our lives.
Self-care can restore us, our energy. Self-care means that we take our medicine and follow medical advice. Self-care means we drag our asses out of bed to go to treatment, even when we don’t want to.
This week I have a three month follow up with my breast cancer surgeon and a check-in with my medical oncologist. Most of all, I’m looking forward to being done with radiation. My last treatment is this coming Friday! YAY!
I’m also supposed to have physical therapy, but they have been busy so I’m on call for an appointment. Last week we couldn’t make the timing work and I can tell that I’m not doing as well. I am very much looking forward to physical therapy this week. Wish me luck!
After I complete radiation therapy on Friday, the next phase will begin. Hormone therapy.
During each and every phase of this cancer journey, I have found so much to be grateful for. I know that I have had an easy time and I know so many more people have it so much harder than I do. I think about these breast cancer warriors and send them love and healing energy.
Thank you, dear reader, for your support. I am grateful that you are here with me. I am grateful for your support.