One bad chemo left. Will I get radiation?

RadioactiveSymbolTime sure does fly when you’re not having much fun. I can’t believe that I only have one bad chemo treatment left, February 10. It’s going to be the end of a chapter in the Cancer Book for me.

But my story doesn’t end there, that’s for sure. Everything has changed and my post-chemo life will begin to show itself. I will still have nine more months of Herceptin, a targeted chemotherapy, but it will be nothing compared to how six rounds of Carboplatin and Taxotere have wreaked complete havoc on my body.

I’m meeting with a Radiation Oncologist next week, and I have to admit I am hesitant to get radiation. I just got my ass kicked from chemo; I’m not too willing to rush into radiation. The kitchen sink seems to get thrown at cancer, but in some cases there’s not enough information out there to tell us what really works and what doesn’t.

I had two positive lymph nodes which is a gray area for radiation. Long-term radiation studies have focused on people with four positive nodes or more. I’ve also done a lot of research on radiation therapy and found out that, yes, radiation can kick your ass in, too. It can fatigue you, burn your skin, change the texture of your skin, cause skin pigment changes, increase your risk of lymphedema (swelling), cause a secondary cancer, increase risk of heart and lung damage (especially if it’s on the left side, which mine would be), and you can only treat an area once time in your lifetime.

I feel like my left side is already severely compromised. I can’t feel most of it, and there is a lot of scar tissue that has been changing and evolving since the mastectomy. I am still getting to know this part of my body again. At my check up this week my breast surgeon told me the actual scar tissue on my chest is the size of a dinner plate, because that’s what was left gaping open when the breast tissue was removed before the skin was pulled together. So what looks like a ten-inch line scar is actually a ten-inches in diameter round area of scar tissue. That’s huge, and it’s still healing.

So far each doctor has deferred to the next. The Breast Diagnostic Doctor: Whatever the surgeon days, do. The Breast Surgeon: Whatever the oncologist says, do. The Oncologist: Whatever the radiation oncologist says, do. I don’t know, my gut says don’t. And who knows, maybe the Radiation Oncologist will see no need to treat it.

All I know is that if radiation is recommended, it is going to be a hard sell. Since the Herceptin is supposed to be a nail in this cancer’s coffin, I’m going to need to see some serious data showing that the benefits of radiation will outweigh the side effects.




9 responses

  1. this is a love letter to you Leah and Amelia….been following all your posts…grateful for all your insights and honesty and sharing – one more treatment….time is moving – my sister has 2 left…your posts have helped me understand some of what she is feeling inside and out. Even todays post – not knowing the best next choice is reassuring – It is hard to know what is the best thing to do. I am trusting you will get it right. All love and good wishes as you begin the next phase and a great big thank you ….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Barbara! Love to you, and I hope your sister is doing as well as possible. Life will never be the same again, but I can’t wait to get to the other side of this. What a hell of a ride. Thinking of you as you travel a similar road.


  2. You go! I’m so glad to hear that chemo is almost over. Ask every question in the book about the radiation. I did radiation – the fatigue sucks and the scars last. Of course you want to be sure that it’s a truly necessary treatment. Love to you and Amelia as you head into the home stretch of chemo.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for your ongoing support, Gretchen. Having cancer become a huge part of our lives gives me great compassion and understanding for what you and your Leah went through. xo


  4. I had a lumpectomy and then you must have radiation (3 weeks, 5 days a week). Glad I don’t have to make a choice. You and Amelia will figure it out. My husband is happy for every treatment I can get. Whatever that will keep me in his arms longer. We are blessed to be loved. Stay strong ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I found you here because you dropped in on me-I’m thankful. I have sat since this morning and read every post you and Amelia have written.

    Your honesty and courage overwhelm me.

    I wish you much love and luck as you continue to take each new step and I’m grateful to share them with you here.

    Liked by 1 person

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