I took this picture today-the door to the treatment room. It's plastered with "caution" signs so no one goes in there and gets exposed to the harmful rays. Except the patients. We go in there naked on purpose.
The experience itself is bizarre. It doesn't hurt. But it is freaky to lay there and hear the long high pitched "buzzzzz" sound and know that you are being hit with radiation. It would be really easy to panic and freak out. Yesterday, for my first session, I just repeated variations of Joshua 1:9 in my head: "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." I personalized it and said to God, "I know that you are with me and you are protecting me. Holding me in the palm of Your Hand. I am wrapped in the shelter of Your mighty wings." That was pretty much all I thought about. I visualized His strength encircling me. Protecting me, yet allowing the radiation beams that needed to get into me though.
The treatment goes pretty fast. I lay down on the slab, arms up over my head holding onto the handlebars. They position and line me up. They also put a fabric pad on my chest. They tell me that is so the radiation is really focused on the skin. The doctor today told me that they want to make sure the skin gets treated because that is one of the organs that the cancer may come back to. After they put the pad on me, the ladies leave and the machine starts to buzz. It goes for several seconds in one position, the buzzing stops, the machine rotates around to another position and the buzz begins again. For the past two days, they have taken an X-ray as well. It all takes about 10 minutes total.
I'll meet with the doctor once a week. It looks like Wednesday is the day. My oncologist is out of town, so I met a different one. She just asked if I had any questions. I asked her when I would start seeing skin changes. She said it would take about 3 weeks and then it would hit pretty fast. She said skin care right now was "optional." I figure I'll start now and then my skin will be in good condition as we go. I'm also drinking a lot of water, and that has to be good as well.
My lymphedema is under control as well. As I was doing my manual drainage last night, I could feel the lymph fluid moving. It is a kind of tingling sensation. I could once again see some of the tendons in my left hand. I wrapped my arm completely last night, albeit loosely. I want to be proactive on this. I'm wearing the compression garments during the radiation treatments and most of the day. I take it off in the late afternoon/early evening so I can cook dinner and clean up without worrying about getting them wet. It's also good for the skin to get some air.
My prayer requests are pretty much the same:
- That the radiation be effective and ACCURATE. That no organs are harmed in the process.
- That my lymphedema stay under control.
- That I remain strong. I keep hearing how radiation makes a person exhausted. I'd like to be able to continue with my daily activities. I do a lot of running around with the kids. Also, exercise is important to me, especially now that I know it also helps control the lymphedema. Not to mention my weight, which could easily pack on now that I am on tamoxifen.