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, February 2, 2011

I get to see the doctor...it must be Wednesday

The first part of the week is so busy for me, I just can't get to the blog. I'm just hoping to be able to squeeze in a workout this afternoon.

Anyway, the radiation continues. Today as they were finishing up my session, they told me I was to see the doctor. Ah yes.  It must be Wednesday, then.

The nurse took me into an exam room and pulled my record up on the computer screen.  She asked how I was doing and looked at my burns. The patch under my arm is the worst, and she definitely looked concerned. She asked if I was allergic to anything. Well, yes....sulfa drugs and cipro.  As it turns out, they treat the burns on most people with....sulfa drugs. So that is out of the question for me.  She looked at my upcoming treatments and shook her head.  Apparently, that area has more "treatment" coming its way.

The doctor came in and basically said the same thing. He mentioned some kind of medicated "pad" they could use, but Kaiser doesn't cover them.  In my mind, it didn't matter. I'm willing to pay out of pocket for something if I need it. The doctor said we'd keep any eye on it and deal with it later. It really isn't bothering me that much. It does annoy at night, especially when my arm is bandaged. The top of the bandage rubs against my armpit and it reminds me that I'm burned. It's getting a little harder to get comfortable to sleep, too. But I'm not in serious pain, so I let it go.

The good news was that my blood counts are all good. So no worries there.

After the doctor left, the nurse told me to wait a minute. She turned around and started to shuffle through a drawer.  She came back opening a package of something. It was the medicated pad thing that the doctor was talking about. Bless her heart! She stuck it on my underarm and told me that I could wear it for several days, taking it off only to shower. It's about 1/4 inch thick.  She said when the skin starts to peel (and apparently, all of my skin is going to be peeling off at some point), the patch under the arm can get really bad. So she wanted to treat it before it got bad.  Hopefully it will keep it from deteriorating to the point of too much pain.  Each pad is about $25, so they are "golden" as she put it.

So I guess I have some more burning and then peeling skin to look forward to. I don't mind if it looks ugly and freakish. Heck, it looked freakish enough when I started. I just would rather not have too much pain. I also want to be able to keep active. The pad helps cushion the area as my upper arm moves around as well as treating the area. Today was treatment number 22. I have 6 more treatments to the area, and then 5 that are coded differently on my schedule. I'm assuming that is the "scar boost" that I've heard of at the end. 11 more days total.

My prayer requests:

  • That my skin hang in there through the end of the treatment. That this pad thing work to help it from getting out of control.  That I not be in too much pain from it all. 
  • That I continue to feel good and fit enough to exercise. 
  • That at the end of all of this the doctors declare that there is "No Evidence of Disease."  (NED) I may have to push for a PET scan, but I'll talk about that more later.


  1. Oh Tonya, that's not so good. Make sure to communicate with your techs and your nurse like you are. What did I do, standard is 33 zaps, brain can't remember. Mine didn't get real bad till about the last week, and we knew I could tough it out. Yours sounds a bit earlier then is preferred.I do hope I miss read, and it is not hurting you. Mine never hurt, as I just don't have much sensation from my mastectomy site. Tonya, have you been very fithful with your radiation lotion from the start? I always packed my lotion in every day, and put a good coating on before I got dressed again. My techs & nurses were pretty good and we watched together. They were right on top of the next lotion I need in the process. I never needed the pads you wrote off. I can imagine how much better those feel!Let us know how it feels. I will go post a pic on my page of my burn at the worst for you to see!

  2. Tonya, Don't you just love those nurses! I hope that pad helps. I'm sorry you have to deal with such sore skin, but I'm happy you don't have much pain. As for the restful night's sleep?? Well, I don't think I've had a really good night's sleep since, say, last April before all this junk started! I still have to sleep on my back mostly and I have never been a back sleeper! We constantly move forward and continue to make adjustments I guess. You are amazing in your positive attitude!