Radiation

Check out the hair!

A lot has happened since my last post.  After multiple conversations with my radiation oncologist, we’ve decided to do radiation.  I’ve had an echo cardiogram, been to the plastic surgeon twice for expansions, and had another round of Herceptin.  Think I spend some time in doctor’s offices?

Let me start with radiation.  Yep, we are going to do it.  I will say, since my last post I do have my head around it and am fine.  I don’t like it, but have come too far to mess this up now.  In summary, my radiation oncologist got additional feedback from MD Anderson, a physician at the University of Michigan that specializes in post-mastectomy radiation, and from all the doctors in her practice.  And at the end of the day, they all agree that I fall in a grey area.  Perfect.  The bottom line is they don’t really know.  They don’t have enough research to tell me one way or the other.  The question still remains – could there be any microscopic cancer cells that were left behind in the right breast where the tumor was located?  Well the answer is who knows, but possibly.  If we radiate, it reduces my chance of local recurrence.  Hard to say exactly how much.  But let’s say my chance of local recurrence is 10-15%.  They say if I radiate it could reduce my chances to 2%.  Compelling, right?  Because I am considered young, the pros out weigh the cons, they recommend I do it.  I look at it like this:  if breast cancer comes back at some point locally and I chose not to radiate, I would be sick about it and beat myself up.  If I do radiate and for some reason it comes back anyway, well I know I did absolutely everything I could have done.  So here we go…the journey continues.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, November 8th (my birthday by the way – happy birthday to me) I go in to get “mapped” for radiation.  I have no idea what to expect other than they tell me it’s about an hour appointment.  Should be interesting.  From there I think I was told I have to wait a week before we can start radiation.  I am not sure why but will ask.  If that is the case, that should mean I will start radiation the week of November 14th.  I have to do 28 treatments.  It’s Monday through Friday at the same time everyday.  I will learn more tomorrow and will let everyone know how this will work.  So, if all goes as I anticipate, I should be done with radiation the end of December.

Side effects of radiation:  fatigue (although my radiation oncologist tells me that patients that have had chemo say this is nothing), skin irritation (apply creme), and some impact to the plastic surgery already taken place (thank goodness for a great plastic surgeon)!  The bad news is now I have to wait 3 to 6 months AFTER radiation before the plastic surgeon will remove the spacers and replace them with implants.  He essentially needs to see the full effects of radiation before we do that “final” plastic surgery.  Frustrating to me because I was so hoping and planning to wrap all of this up by the end of the year.  Now we are going to end up well into 2012.

On a lighter note, last week I had my every three month echo cardiogram. You may recall that I have to do that while I am being treated with Herceptin.  I am happy to report that my heart remains strong.

I’ve also been back to the plastic surgeon a couple of times for expansions.  The spacers have to be expanded to the size we want them before radiation can begin.  We are there.  No, I didn’t choose DD.  Sorry to those of you hoping for larger!  Ha!  I think they are somewhere around a B or C.  They did pump up my right breast slightly more assuming some shrinkage from radiation.  It’s barely noticeable to me but slightly bigger for now.

Last week I was also back in the chemo or infusion room for my every 3 week Herceptin treatment.  Pretty predictable appointment.  No side effects.  Strangely I still enjoy the quiet time.

A couple random thoughts to pass along:

  • My hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes are growing back (yeah).
  • I went in last week to have my hair “trimmed” (I had a few fly-aways that needed to be dealt with) and colored (blonde).
  • I have been without a scarf for a couple of weeks and find that I get more looks now with short hair then I did with a scarf.  Who knows.

So the journey continues.  Please keep the positive thoughts and prayers coming!

Comments

  1. thanks for the update Mer! Good thoughts heading your way! Happy Birthday my dear. We are ready for that vino when you are! By the way, no one’s boobs are the same 😉

  2. Wendy Mangum says:

    I think you look beautiful! Happy Birthday to one of the strongest people I know. I wish you many, many more years!

  3. Lisa Millen McIlvoy says:

    Love the hair! You look great!!! Wishing you a very Happy Birthday today!!!!

  4. Happy Birthday, Meredith! I wish you happy celebrating today and MANY more in the years to come! I absolutely love your hair–you look adorable/fantastic! Keep fighting the good fight! You’re almost there!!

  5. Mary Johnson says:

    Happy Happy Birthday (week, month, year!) my dear friend! You look awesome!!!! It was good to celebrate with you the other day! Keep up your amazing positive attitude! This is soon going to be a thing of the past!!!!

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