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New Year, New Start... 1st Radiation

Episode LVII: I fell into a ring of fire... and it burns, burns, burns

It was now a new year and I was ready to get the final treatment started. Ready to be completely cancer free!!! I went the Friday before treatment into the radiation office to get the last films before starting treatment. The location where I thought I was going to have treatment was changed and I was headed to a new center. While the center was closer, it was almost hidden in the basement level of the medical center. I think they were trying to hide the troublemakers there... like me!

I met the guys who were going to be manipulating and zapping me over the next seven weeks. They were funny, which was a bonus since I would be there daily. Of course I had to change into some hospital gowns and then remove them to get my final films. I got on the table and they measured and manipulated me until I was lined up properly and the machine took some pictures and then rotated around me to another angle and took some more pictures.

Not me or my guy techs, but an example of the machine...

Afterwards, I was given some new markings in a new color. Then they told me that I would not be able to start radiation until my insurance approved everything. Really? That should have been done weeks ago. As soon as I got home I was on the phone trying to figure out what went wrong. With all the holidays they were just behind. They promised it would be handled over the weekend, but my 8:40 radiation on Monday was not going to happen! Argh!!!

New color markings, now I have black & green...

Doctors, Doctors, & More Doctors...

My Monday was going to be packed even without the radiation treatment. I had an appointment with the Breast Surgeon where I was quickly checked out and given the we will see you in a six months because you will be up to your eyeballs with other people monitoring your breasts. Then I had to head to the Cardiologist to check on my pulse. Seems that it has continued to run high since chemotherapy... between 106-130. Another doctor, like I needed that?!?

A day of doctors... I got this!

After running an EKG the doctor decided that he would put me in a 24 hour monitor to see if my heart was getting any restful periods. Even though I am not worried, I was glad that we were looking carefully at all my symptoms (high pulse rate, swelling, and some occasional dizziness). However, it meant I would have to come back in tomorrow to get the monitor put on... seems I can't get away from doctors!

While in the doctor's office waiting, I got a call to let me know that my radiation was approved. Yeah! And they could squeeze me in after my appointment. Of course I was all for starting!!! I headed over to the treatment center and I got ready for my first radiation. I had brought my tote bag (with lotion) just in case they called. Being prepared can have its rewards.

At the radiation office, I changed into my gowns and once called made my way to the treatment room. I took off one of my gowns, got on the table, then removed my arms from the other gown and laid down into my mold. The guys positioned and moved me while we chatted. The sheet underneath me when moved made a gas like sounds, so I would just say "Excuse me" and we would laugh.

Once in position, they left the room and I waited. Not for long. Some beeping sounds were made and the lens of the machine would move, then more beeping sounds were made and the lens altered again. That repeated itself multiple times until the radiation for that direction was complete. Then the machine would slowly revolve around my body and repeat the same process from a different angle.

Examples of how radiation was zapped through my breast 
and the area that gets radiated!

That was all radiation was, some noise and I was zapped. Afterwards in the changing room I put an ample amount of Udderly Smooth cream on and placed a rolled up t-shirt under my breast. It was going to be the first day of not wearing a bra for the remainder of my treatment... I was slightly (or more than slightly) uncomfortable about the idea of being bra-less. However, the nurse educator had mentioned that the area under the breast was usually damaged the worst due to the moisture/sweating there. By rolling up a soft t-shirt or material it would help decrease the moisture and skin-to-skin contact. I was all for preventing potential problems!

My tote was now a way to countdown my treatments!

After a few hours at home my chest began to feel hot. As I was casually watching tv I felt that I was slightly sunburned. Then I thought to myself, you are being crazy. I reached into my shirt and my skin felt hot... really hot. I peeked into my shirt and saw that I was red. I was shocked. I was really shocked because I was told I would not begin to turn red until the 2nd or 3rd week of treatment. I was red and sore... and I was even more glad that I had the Aloe Vera in the house already.

Only hours after and I am turning pink!?!?!

In my head...

I cannot believe my skin turned pink only hours after treatment. I know I always have to do things ahead of schedule, but I only hope that it's not a sign of things to come. Being unusual should not always mean that I do things unusually!

However, I know that I can endure and I know that I will get through whatever radiation brings. I have to, so I will. Now I just need to make the best of the week and get my the all clear from the Cardiologist, which I am sure I will get after my 24 hour monitoring. The idea of dealing with multiple doctors throughout the week is not appealing, even if necessary!!!

“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” 
- Mahatma Gandhi

Episode Reference: Ring of Fire, Johnny Cash song


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