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, January 19, 2011

Status report

This week has been a busy one!  Not a whole lot has happened on the fighting front, so I've been a bit quiet.

I continue to go in each day for radiation treatment.  It is starting to show on my skin.  It is the middle of week 3, just like the radiation oncologist said.  There is some telltale redness under my arm. It feels a little uncomfortable when I am driving to have the seat belt over my chest. I have a little fluffy thing to protect me, but I still feel like its chafing a bit.  I have to be careful doing my manual lymph drainage as well.  An important part of it is showing the body an alternate pathway to drain. In my case, I am trying to train the fluid to drain down my left side and into my groin. The involves rubbing the left side from under my armpit and down to my hip. The area under my arm that is being treated, including the mastectomy scar, is tender. I plan on asking my physical therapist if we should try to move the fluid across the midline to the right armpit.  This burning is only going to get worse.

To manage the lymphedema, I've been wearing the bandages on my arm for longer in the mornings and early afternoon. I even wore them all day on Tuesday. I took the day off of exercise, so I figured I might as well work on the arm.  I hate to exercise in the big arm bandage.  I don't mind the compression sleeve/gauntlet.  Tomorrow I go into my physical therapist and we will measure the hand and arm. Hopefully I've been able to keep the swelling down and maybe even helped the one area in my forearm that measured bigger last week.

Aside from treatment and cancer, I am very glad that the women's bible study started up again this week at church.  We are going to be going through Kay Smith's book and journal, "Reflecting God."  It is so nice to have a regimented program of study to go through each week.  I am sticking with my resolution of going through the Bible, but it is nice to have something topical to keep me going as well. Last year, we did another Kay Smith book, "Pleasing God" and this should be a good sequel.

The fellowship that we share with each other on Tuesday's is so precious.  This week, one woman pulled me aside and shared with me that God had a word for her about me.  I believe this particular woman has the gift of prophecy, because she has shared things with the group on several previous occasions. Anyway, the Lord told her that I would not only speak to many women, but the scale that I would be speaking to them would be enormous. More than she could imagine, she said.  It made me recall something that another sister told me last summer after I was first diagnosed.  That my mission now was to speak. Interesting and exciting! I know there is a reason that I am going through this trial.  I pray that it is not only for my own growth, but that in some way I can minister to others. I don't know what God has in store for me yet, but want to yield myself to whatever it is that He has in His plans.

My prayer requests:

  • That the burning of my skin be manageable.  I know it needs to happen.  I just want to be able to do my normal activities without too much discomfort.
  • Along the same lines, that I do not get too tired. Fatigue is a common side effect of radiation. I have resolved in my mind not to give in to that. I want to continue with my exercise program and daily life. Of course, if my body needs rest, I will give it rest. I just pray I can get through this without extra fatigue. 
  • That my lymphedema stays under control. I'm willing to do what I know how to do to keep it there. But I know there is a large part of it that I can't control and I need God's help on.
  • For my friend, N, who was recently diagnosed with uterine cancer. She is in that very scary place of not knowing exactly how "bad" it is yet. She knows a hysterectomy is in her very immediate future, but doesn't know if the disease has spread.  Is it just me, or does there seem to be a cancer storm going on right now? So many people I know and know of that are in the process of either being diagnosed or tested for some form of cancer.  

1 comment:

  1. Hi Tonya -- hopefully by now you know that you shouldn't attempt lymph drainage across any area of the body currently being radiated because the nodes and channels in those locations are being affected by the radiation but after that several weeks after you can attempt that...another alternative to the the drainage massage is lymph stimulation via bouncing on an exercise ball -- I can explain it to you over the phone if you want to call me and you can discuss it with your PT person. I have found it to be equally effective as the massage. Also, a study revealed that having a glass of red wine each day or every other day during radiation helps minimize side effects so I tried that and lo and behold my burning and chafing held out til the very last week. Another thing I did was I used organic shea butter cream instead of all the other things often recommended. My radiation oncologist asked me every week to remind him what I had been using because he couldn't believe how healthy my skin remained during most of the treatment (I had 33 treatments). Hope that helps! PS I bought my organic shea butter from www.terressentials.com. xoxo facebook inbox me if you need my # and want to chat.