Every road I go down in the cancer journey seems to lead to increased vulnerability. I sit in rooms half-naked and get poked, prodded, weighed, and measured by dozens of strangers. There is a blind reliance on strangers that didn’t exist six months ago that I will never get used to. At some point in each appointment I have to disconnect. There is only so much information I can absorb in one sitting. Thankfully Amelia is at these appointments to pick up my slack.
Radiation has brought up a lot of emotions that I did not expect. I feel uneasy, exposed, and overwhelmed. Just when I think I’ve got my emotions around cancer cataloged and organized into tidy little volumes, some brand new situation surfaces and feelings bubbles up. I simply refuse to ignore my feelings. It does no good for me, and it certainly doesn’t make anything go away. I’d rather ride out the emotions that come with the territory, there’s far more for me to learn on that path than one of of blissful ignorance.
Radiation is some serious shit. A physicist is now part of my treatment team. Beams of radiation blast my chest wall, collar bone, and lymph nodes, annihilating any rogue cancer cells that happen to be hanging around. The mission of radiation is destruction and/or interruption of fast growing cells. I will most likely have a skin reaction. It may look like a burn, but it will not technically be a burn. With burns, damage occurs from the top down through the skin layers. Heat burns more layers with each degree and eventually blisters. Radiation works differently. It damages skin from the bottom up: damaged basal cells (cells below your skin layers) move upwards to the surface of the skin and ulcerate. It is not a burn, and does not act or heal like a burn even though it looks like one. But it all sounds a little creepy if you ask me.
For the next six weeks every week day I will lay topless, hands over my head, taking deep breaths and holding them three separate times for 45 seconds while I receive radiation doses. I take a deep breath to pull my heart away from the radiation beam as much as possible. This treatment will have a whole new healing process that can take two years to recover from physically. The radiation oncologist said two to three years, but I’ll take two, thank you very much.
I only ” liked ” this post because of your willingness to share your experience. I dislike that you are having to go through this radiation
part of conquering the cancer. But I am happy and oh so ever inspired that you are a brave warrior. Not many can say they a physicist working for them 😀
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How do you treat you skin after radiation? Any creams? I am still on chemo and will start radiation 5/19
I will use aloe if it gets too uncomfortable. I don’t use anything right now, and there is no visual change at all so far (one week done). The one thing that I can feel is slight tightness in my chest and shoulder. Doing yoga every morning to keep myself limber.
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Thinking of you and hoping you’re weathering this storm okay.
Thank you, Leah. I am blogging my experience with triple negative IDC insitu and invasive also… My writing is not as honest. I pride myself as sarcastic and a witty good writer but that does not exist in my blog… I feel I am writing so everyone can reassure themselves that I am doing fine, so people don’t feel bad or worry. The cathartic quality of your writing has woken me up. Thank you
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