Thursday, March 21, 2013

Radiation Oncologist

Yesterday, George and I went to meet my radiation oncologist for the first time. He is a really nice doctor who spent a lot of time with us and answered all of our questions. Like why I need radiation. Basically, the chemo goes throughout your entire body and kills rapid growing cells which come in the form of cancer or hair cells or cells in your stomach. Radiation kills any left over cancer cells in the specific area where my cancer was. I will be getting radiation from my clavicle bone down my right side chest and under my arm pit where my lymph nodes were.

The part that is really going to suck is that I have to go every single day for 6.5 weeks. It will just feel like a waste of time because I only get radiation for about 5 minutes. So it will take longer for me to drive there, undress, get on the table, get off the table, get dressed and drive to work then the treatment actually takes. BUT if its going to keep me cancer free then I'm happy with it.

The other thing we found out yesterday is what stage my cancer is. Yes its been 6 months since my surgery and I never asked. To be honest, I never really wanted to know. I knew for sure I wasn't stage 1 and I always just assumed from what I read that I am stage 2A. But I am actually stage 3A. I was pretty shocked when my doctor told me. Stage 3 sounds so much scarier than stage 2. But once we left the office and I had a chance to really think about it, it doesn't really matter. I'm in the middle of this battle and whether I'm stage 1 or stage 3, I want to do everything I can to make sure that this stupid cancer go away forever. The scariest thing about this whole thing for me is that its been living in my body for maybe YEARS completely undetected. The other scary thing is that the tiny little lump spread and ended up in my lymph nodes. So now, even though its going to be a very annoying and long 6.5 weeks, I'm glad that I have this extra treatment to make sure every tiny little cancer cell is out of my body.

My radiation oncologist told me that the side effects I will feel from radiation will likely start about half way through. He told me that I would definitely feel fatigue and that I would probably have some skin problems where the radiation is. I'm hoping that I'm one of the lucky ones who gets zero or little skin irritation but I'll continue to expect the worst and hope for the best! I will probably start radiation in about 3 weeks. Next week I have a CT scan that they use to map out where exactly the radiation will go AND I will get my tiny little tattoos. Not quite the tattoo I thought I'd be getting but at least they're just little dots!

Today marks 3 weeks since my last chemo and I am SO happy that I did not have to have chemo today! I am feeling so great. AND I finally got to go get my nails done!! Wahoo!!

Tomorrow I have a follow up appointment with my surgeon. I can't believe its been 6 months since my surgery. Its hard to believe how much has changed since I saw this doctor last. Actually its hard to believe how much has changed since I saw this doctor for the first time! Its been 8 months since then.

I can't wait for June to be here and to be done with all treatments and to try to put this all behind me. I really, really, really hate cancer and I cannot wait for SOMEONE to find a cure SOON!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Chemo recap

I am SOOOOOOO happy that chemo is finally finished and I am feeling better. My doctor asked me if chemo was easier or harder than I thought it would be and I told her it was easier. It wasn't easy by any means but as I said in the beginning I hoped for the best and prepared for the worst. I was lucky that chemo wasn't too terrible for me. I think my worst symptoms were stomach related. My stomach had its signals backwards and my stomach would be empty but I would feel nauseous (because my stomach was empty) so I wouldn't want to eat but I would have to because that's the only way to get rid of the nauseous feeling. If that makes sense! I took my nausea meds around the clock for the first 3 days or so after chemo just so I wouldn't feel sick. 

The first 3 or so cycles I felt hungover on the Sunday after chemo. I think because it was the day after my steroids stopped. The 4th cycle I don't really remember because I was so sick besides chemo. The 5th and 6th cycle I had terrible insomnia after my steroid ended which is ironic because most people have insomnia as a side effect of the steroid.

The side effect of ending chemo that I didn't expect was sadness and fear. Its weird to say that you are sad about chemo ending. During chemo you can FEEL the medication fighting against your cancer and when it ends there's nothing fighting against your cancer anymore. Its kind of scary. And that's where the fear comes in. I don't get to just move on from this. I have to think about cancer for the rest of my life. Every pain, headache or weird feeling is going to scare me and that's what I hate the most.

I was calling March my month off but its turning out to be my month of appointments. Friday I chipped one of my teeth so I need to see this dentist this week (my least favorite doctor). This Friday I am scheduled to get my port out and I need to do blood week at the beginning of this week for that. Then next week I meet my radiation oncologist and at the end of the week I have my SIX MONTH follow up appointment with my breast surgeon (can you believe my surgery was 6 months ago?? I cannot!!). The last week of March I have my post-chemo appointment with my oncologist. By April I might be ready to just be doing radiation and not having to see doctors every week!