Radiation

Last Friday I started radiation. It’s now become my “job” for the next 25 business days. So far I have completed 3 treatments and have 22 left to go!

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It was a longer wait between surgery and the start of radiation than anticipated. My tumor was on the left side and that is the side that is being treated. The heart is also on the left side. This makes radiation tricky. I had to go for a few planning appointments to make sure that my heart wouldn’t be in the way when they radiated on my left side. Guess what? I’m part of the lucky percentage whose heart is the in way or too close to their chest wall when they breathe so I have to wear a crazy breathing apparatus while I’m being radiated. It’s insane. 

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Before I started radiation I met with a few therapists to learn how to use the breathing apparatus. It is SO uncomfortable and it holds my breath so I can’t breathe. When my breath is held my heart moves away from the chest wall making it safe for them to zap me. Obviously I’m happy for these technological advances I was just hoping I wouldn’t need to use it!

Each session so far has been the same. I undress from the waist up and put on a gown. I then go into the room where the machine is. I lie down and the staff line up my body to my tattoos (real tattoos!) on my chest that I was given. I now have 4 little blue dots that are the external markers for the therapists to line up my body and the machine. It’s very high-tech and pretty cool. Once lying down on the bed, my left arm is positioned in cuffs above my head so it is also out-of-the-way. Usually after some minor adjustments to make sure my body is in the perfect position my session starts. It last about 20ish minutes because of the breathing apparatus. I thought i would be able to nap during my sessions. Instead I have to stay awake and pay attention to the therapists instructions on when I need to breathe and then hold my breath. It usually goes something like this:

Okay, Renee. After this breathe we will begin.

I finish that breath

First breath in. Good. Exhale

Next big breathe in and hold

I hold my breath for a maximum of 20 seconds and I know this because they told me but also because I count. It feels like forever because I’m a nose breather and not a mouth breather but even after 3 sessions I’m noticing an improvement in the ease that I’m able to hold.

Good. And breathe normally.

Sometimes the machine moves around me and sometimes the staff come in to check measurements before they start zapping me again. Then we repeat these exact steps numerous times until they tell me we are done for the day.

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Radiation doesn’t hurt and it’s not invasive so I’m very thankful for that! It’s not enjoyable but something I have to do. It’s insurance. That g-d forbid should a cancer cell be attached somewhere in that area, the radiation will hopefully kill it! They tell me to expect to be more fatigued and it’s common to have skin changes like a sunburn. My skin is very sensitive and so far I’ve just noticed a little reddening of the skin. But I’m following the doctors orders of applying loads of cream to the area and staying well hydrated in hopes that my side effects will be minimal.

So that’s what I’m up to these days! Every session that is behind me, is another day closer to being done treatments and going on with my life!

Comments

  1. I cant wait to read the final update when this is all behind you!! Thank you for sharing your journey!

  2. mom2michael says:

    You just have such a big, full heart it takes up extra space in there :)
    I’m glad to hear the treatments have begun. You’re in the home stretch now :) xo

  3. You’re doing great and will put this behind you soon! I can’t wait until your blog post celebrating a year since you are free and clear of cancer!

  4. Kelly young says:

    Praying for you I just completed 37 treatments 4 surgeries and 4 chemo hang in there my cancer is stage 4 cervical I so understand what your going thru all the best for you

  5. Darlene S. says:

    You are trooping through this girl!! I’m so proud of how far you’ve come, your positivity! Praying radiation is successful!! Please take care of yourself, rest… you are winning this!

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