16 Down. 12 to Go.

I have completed 16 radiation treatments and have 12 more to go.  I am there every morning at 9:45 a.m.  Imagine having a doctor’s appointment every day for a month!  It’s not fun and honestly I am so sick of it.  But the appointment is quick and painless – which makes it a little easier.  I do see the same faces every morning and am on a first name basis with many in the radiation oncology office.  Not too surprising since I am there every day!  So here is how it all goes down:  When I arrive I sign in and barely have time to sit down before they call me back.  They have quite a system going and have patients scheduled every 15 minutes.  I head directly to the ladies locker room where I undress from the waist up and put on a lovely hospital gown.  I put my clothes and purse in a locker and head back to another waiting area outside of the radiation room(s).  I never even sit down – the Techs always call me back right away.  I lay down on the table with my head and arms in the mold they made especially for me.  The Techs line me up, line up the machine, and then they leave the room.  They work the machine from a desk right outside of the room.  I often wonder how safe this really is if the Techs don’t want to be in the room!  Anyway, the actual radiation lasts about 3 to 5 minutes.  It literally takes me longer to get undressed and re-dressed than the actual time I am being radiated.  And of course I have the drive there and back – that’s the longest.  Anyway, I am finding in general I am in and out in 15 minutes with the exception of Mondays where I have to meet with the doctor after radiation.  Although that too is really brief.

I am starting to see some side effects from radiation.  My right breast that is being radiated looks slightly sunburned.  But it’s not uncomfortable at this point.  I apply Aquaphor ( a really thick lotion) liberally every night.  I learned today that it will likely continue to get red and may even “peak” after radiation is complete.  But it will eventually go away.  Fatigue is another common side effect they warned me about.  I will say I am feeling tired these days, especially towards the end of the day.  But honestly I don’t know if it is related to radiation or not.  It could just be the craziness of the holiday season, the constant doctor’s appointments, or the fact that I have a very busy 4 1/2 year old.  Or some combination of all of those things.  Who knows.  But at this point it’s not anything I can’t deal with and it’s not like the fatigue I felt during chemotherapy.  Now that was awful.

I did have a situation last week with a treatment.  I showed up at my regularly scheduled time.  I happened to be comparing cancer/radiation stories with another patient in the waiting room and realized I was sitting longer than normal.  Finally my name was called but this time it was to tell me that the machine was down and the repairman was on the way.  It was going to take a while to fix so they wanted to know if I could come back this afternoon.  Let’s just say I was frustrated.  It had just happened so they did not have time to reach me prior to my arrival.  While I know it was not their fault, it was extremely inconvenient.  Wanting to get my 28 treatments done by the end of this year, I said that I would find a way to re-arrange my afternoon schedule and find child care for my daughter.  I made a couple of phone calls and lined up the afternoon.  A good friend had Gracie over for a play date (thank you!) and I was able to get back to the radiation oncology office for a late afternoon radiation treatment.  If all goes as planned, my last treatment will be on December 29th.  They tell me the machine rarely breaks down.  But as my luck will have it, the machine has been down twice now since I have started radiation.  Here’s to hoping the machine (and I) stay healthy and I can get all 28 treatments done in 2011!

Thanks to everyone for their continued support.  Hope everyone is taking the time to enjoy the holiday season!



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