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 9, 2011

Tiny bubble

I was in bad need of a new Mepilex pad yesterday. The first one just wouldn't stay on after 5 days, so I just went without for about 12 hours. Yikes. I definitely missed it. When I went into my radiation appointment yesterday, I looked for the nurse but didn't see her. When I was done with my treatment, I asked the technician if it would be possible to get another pad. I didn't say it outright, but I was more than willing to pay for it if need be-whether Kaiser covers it or not didn't matter.  By then we had walked over to their "control center" that is in the next room. (The techs all stay outside of the radiation area and monitor patients on a screen while they are actually zapping them. It's dangerous, after all!)  The tech looked a little lost and said, "Well, the nurse isn't here, and I'm not sure where they are."  I pointed over to a set of drawers and said, "Well, she pulled it out of that drawer over there."  Bingo! They were more than happy to open the drawer and let me pick out what I needed. Nice!  It was instant relief. It really makes it bearable.

My skin is definitely upset about all of this radiation. I have a red arc from my collarbone, down to my rib cage that goes underneath my arm and a little onto my back. The worst patch is the underarm area where the lymph node bed was. Yesterday after my shower, I noticed a small blister forming. Lovely. I have a feeling that I have more of that in store for me.

My disappearing aloe
Today my treatment was shorter. I have gotten used to the gyrations of the machine. It moves position about 4 times and zaps from different angles. Today, it only moved twice. I was zoning out a little, waiting for it to move a third time when I felt the table I was on moving. It was time to go. Really? That was short! The tech told me that tomorrow will be another session like today, and then we will be moving on to the scar area for the last 5 sessions. Praise God! I am pretty sure that when the scar is being treated, it will leave out the underarm area. I don't think it could take much more. My poor aloe plant is running out of leaves!

My lymphedema continues to be under control. That is another praise report, because we are really hammering that quadrant of my body that is impaired lymphatically.  But I'll be honest...wrapping my arm in bandages every night is getting pretty old. I'm not sure how much I'll have to do when radiation is over. I'll talk to my physical therapist about that this week when I'm there for my appointment.

I have something else that came up this week that is very exciting, but it deserves a post of its very own and I'm short on time today. The first half of my week is so busy with kids' activities, school, and just taking care of the family.  I will definitely appreciate having the "extra" time every day once radiation has ended.

Only 6 more to go!


  1. Tonya, my heart goes out to you reading about the affects of radiation on your skin. I was very badly burned;the damage remains. Thankfully, the Community Nurses that visit in Australia, provide all the dressings. It would probably have cost me about $50 per day otherwise.
    Wishing you well for the last of you 'hits.'

  2. Tonya, Thank goodness you were assertive and asked for those pads, even directing them to the right drawer. Good for you! I did not have radiation as I have told you before, but my mom did and I remember the redness, soreness, and tenderness she had. I hope the blistering part does not worsen. Good luck on the last six!! You will need to celebrate when it's over - big time!