Radiation Treatments are Completed, but the Symptoms Are Not.
I completed my radiation treatment last Friday! Yay! The technicians and I celebrated with cheers when I pinned the little pink ribbon to the board in the hallway. (I made an Instagram Reel to document my final treatment.) The team at radiology was so kind, gentle, and fun. They made it easy, and I am so grateful to them.
When it started, I wasn’t sure that I would have the energy to make it through, but I did. I made it through cancer treatment. I’ve said that to myself a few times because it sometimes still seems unreal. Confirming helps me stay grounded in the moment.
Fun fact about radiation, the symptoms continue progress for a week or two after the completion of treatment. And the radiation remains in my body “working” for four to six weeks. I forgot to ask if I’d set off a Geiger counter. File it under random things my Gemini ascending brain is curious about.
It’s true about the symptoms progressing. My skin is more sensitive, redder, itchier, and I am far more fatigued. Today it feels as if I’m walking through water, heavy and slow. Even so, I’m still getting out for short walks. My speed has slowed to a stroll but that’s okay. I remind myself that I’m a cancer patient and I give myself all the grace I need to move at my own pace.
The pain is what really gets to me. I have been having more nerve pain, in both the new surgery site and old surgery sites. [LINK TO BLOG] My radiation oncologist explained that the radiation impacts the nerves, muscles, and bones, as much as the skin. Ugh.
Honestly though, I would do it all again to avoid chemotherapy.
This coming Friday I begin hormone therapy which is a medication and a supplement. There will be new symptoms, hormone related symptoms, yay me. I’m post-menopausal so I’m familiar with what comes with hormones…and without hormones.
Physical therapy will continue and I’m grateful for that. Besides the achy, stiff, swollen, radiation impacted parts, I have a common complication from the mastectomy called “cording”, also called Axillary Web Syndrome (AWS). It causes pain, bunching of the flesh under my arm, and inhibits my ability to fully extend my arm. It hurts and I hope that with physical therapy it can be reversed. Wish me luck.
There have been a few complications, side effects, and generally yucky things that I haven’t written about yet. Maybe my next blog will be all about the things that no one talks about. I feel a need to normalize talking about breast cancer. It’s too common not to talk about it openly and at length.
Life isn’t all bad. I’ve been journaling more lately. Inspiration comes in bits and pieces. No date has been set, but I’m looking forward to getting back to work…when I have the energy to. I have a strong desire to serve cancer patients and I look forward to it.
Lessons This Week.
Finding the balance between moving our bodies and resting is an important part of self-care. What does your body need more of today? What can you do to insure you’re getting the self-care that you need?
Being in the moment is helpful as we navigate the big projects. The big projects can seem overwhelming when we consider all the time, resources, and energy needed. But, if we can stay in this moment and deal with what is happening now, it’s easier. My cancer project was overwhelming when I thought of it all together. Being able to go step by step, in each moment, has made it manageable.
Let’s talk about all the things that aren’t normally talked about. Let’s talk about breast cancer and it’s impact on individual lives and families. Let’s talk about what breast cancer patients go through so that we can show up for them. This shit is hard. Support is needed.
We can do hard things. We can. Breast cancer is hard and lots of women, and some men, get through it. I haven’t read Glennon Doyle’s books, but she’s right, we can do hard things.
This Week’s Picture.
This week’s picture is while on a walk around the little park by my house. The green grass and trees feed my soul and give me energy to keep going. The sunshine is nice too.
I’d love to have you join me on social media: Instagram, my Twitter handle is @ndeforest, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
Please excuse me while I go lie down for a while.