About this blog

I was diagnosed with breast cancer on June 11, 2010. As a result of my treatment, I have lymphedema in my left arm. I draw my strength from the Lord, as well as my family's Scots-Irish heritage. Our Graham's were a tough and scrappy bunch of fighters on the Scottish/English border. They came to America and continued to fight when necessary: in the American Revolution; the Civil War; and my brother is a Captain in the U.S. Army. My ancestors settled this country against all odds. My great-grandmothers on both sides of the family were pioneer women who settled the West. Along with that heritage, and the full armor of God, I am walking the walk and fighting the good fight.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Today I went through what someone described to me as, "the most difficult part" of radiation treatment-mapping.  If that is the case, radiation should be a snap.  Although I may feel differently once my skin starts to feel the effects of the radiation burns next month.

The radiation tech (I'm not sure what his exact title is) had me lay down on this CT scanner, stripped to the waist.  I had a gown on that was open to the front.  He had me grab onto the handle bars, which put my arms above my head.   He told me he was putting marks and some wire on my chest.  I just laid there and relaxed.  I didn't sleep very well last night, so it was easy for me to zone out.

After awhile, he was ready to start the scan.  I was told to lie perfectly still.  The table started to move me into the donut hole.  Wouldn't you know it, I started to feel little itches on my nose, my ears, and other places.  Mind over matter!  The scan itself took probably about 10 minutes.  Then the table slid me out, but I wasn't able to move yet.  The tech went away and told me they were doing the calculations for my treatment. That took the most time.  It was no big deal, I just let the random thoughts go through my head.  Some of them:

  • They lyrics to one of the songs we have sung in church recently: "You stay the same through the ages, Your love never changes.  There may be pain in the night, but joy comes in the morning. Your love never fails..."
  • What I was going to get my dad for Christmas.  
  • Am I "equal" enough in the presents for the kids?  Maybe I need to do a little more shopping for one of them?
  • Bummer, I won't have time to work out today.
  • I have to figure out how to make French "madeline" cakes for Isabelle to take into school tomorrow for her cultural food fair.  What did we bring 2 years ago when Olivier was in the 4th grade?
  • I wish I could snooze right now.
It probably took them about 15 minutes to do all of the "micro physics" calculations.  Then the guy came back and told me it was time for the tattoos.  Yes, that's right.  I now am sporting 3 tattoos.  It did hurt a little bit, but after all of the pokes I've had over the past 6 months, it was no big deal.  They aren't really that noticeable, they are just dots.  They look like black freckles.

I need to get one more set of lab work done before the radiation starts, just so we can be sure my blood counts have come back to normal levels.  I think I'm going to give it at least a week before I go in for that.  

I'll start on January 3rd.  The first day, they will just take X-rays.  It will be a test run to make sure they have everything lined up correctly.  Better to test it before they start zapping near vital organs.  I remember the radiation oncologist saying they would "shield" my heart.  I don't want them making any mistakes!   From January 3rd, until February 17th, I'll be going in Monday through Friday at 8:45 a.m.  Each treatment should only take about 10 minutes, and I'll meet with the doctor about once a week to check on my skin condition and how things are going. 

February 17th, that's the big day.  The end of my active treatment.  I'm a bit ambivalent about how I feel about that.  I'll still be on tamoxifen for a few years, so I'm still technically "in"  treatment.  I'm happy to see the "end" of treatment, but on the other hand, am wondering how it will be to live life post-treatment.  I'm not sure what to call it.  In remission?  No evidence of disease?  I don't know. 

Tomorrow I go to see my physical therapist to treat the swelling in my left hand and arm.  Please pray that we are able to get it to go down.  I've been doing what I know to do, with no effect. 


  1. I always smile when I see those tattoos. They are teeny, but I can recognize them easily.

    Your walk has already been so strenuous, but look at you! Still wanting to go to the gym the day you are mapped! That speaks so eloquently about your inner power and strength. I'm sure you get tired of hearing it... or maybe not like it at all... but your walk nudges me along in mine. I am so proud to know you; you are simply an amazing woman.

    Thank you for working so hard to stay with all of us.