radiation update

OK, Thursday I had an appointment with Dr. Rubin, Radiation Oncologist at  the Hickman Cancer Center.  The good news is, I liked him.  I liked him despite his rumpled lab coat and quirky quick talking manner.  I haven’t quite been ready to listen to the tape of his almost 2 hour office visit, but this time, I think I was actually ready to get the message. 

I don’t know why exactly I have been so resistant to radiation.  Everyone who has been in my position tells me how much easier it is than chemotherapy.  I’ve heard stories about how you just get “zapped” and then get dressed and go to work.  People say it takes longer to get in the building and get undressed than it takes to get the radiation.   All unlike chemotherapy.  The chemo experience takes “gearing up for”.  I really don’t even mind getting poked…I chat through the blood draws, and am fascinated to watch chemo nurses find the veins and put “the works” in….  And chemo easily sucks up most of the day…….not exactly the kind of thing that you do and then just scoot on to work.  I won’t even begin to compare how chemo f****-up your body to the apparent cakewalk of radiation. 

Although radiation does have side effects….very very small chance of lung damage and heart damage.  More likely to aggravate the existing lymphadema in my left arm, but that is not a “deal-breaker”.  Supposed to be easy at the beginning, but fatigue is another very real side effect that is cumulative.  I”m told I’ll be very tired at the end of the radiation experience and maybe for months afterwards, unless I am active.  So I guess I’ll need an exercise buddy as I return-to-work-and-get-radiation-and-still-take-care-of-my-kids. 

And skin changes.  that sounds so minor, but the effects of radiation on my skin has me truly concerned.  wow.  I can’t believe it is hard for me to even write this.  But I guess here is the real reason I am so freaked out by radiation.  I know I am receiving a really small benefit from this treatment.  The best I have been able to pin any of the experts down (and believe me, I have tried….) is less than 5% and more than 1% reduction in local recurrence of cancer.  But I am still committed to this treatment.  I have decided that I want to do everything in my power at this point in time to reduce the chance for recurrence.  I don’t ever want to look back and wish I had done more……so I have no second thoughts about choosing to move ahead with radiation.  So, with this small benefit tucked under my arm, I am choosing to move forward with radiation, the treatment that will definitely change my skin, and most certainly make another phase in my BC ride exceedingly more difficult.  Since the left side of my chest is just a concave, rib showing, 7 inch scar where the cute little breast and cause-of-all-this-bullshit tumor was removed, I had really hoped to continue the reconstruction process just like we did the right side.  Wanted to get an expander implant, stretch the skin, and then my own “real” breast implants.  But apparently that’s not how it works after radiation…not even an option.  I have learned my only option for symmetry is a TRAM-Flap operation, which is significantly more “involved” than even the bilateral mastectomy.   With a much longer recovery time.  And new Doc, Dr. Rubin seriously cautioned me, “better think long and hard about that decision” 

This means, “Goodbye…summer of 2010”.  Maybe in 2011 I’ll actually get to have a decent summer again.

So there it is.  My vanity, my desire to have two breasts has me dreading the potentially (yes, very small potential) life saving radiation treatment. 

Anyways, the final story is: 28 treatments to begin sometime in the 3rd or 4th week of September.  You get radiated 5 days a week unless it is a holiday (which seems hilarious to me for some reason.)  I won’t know my “schedule” until after the next big appointment on September 14th.  Feel free to call and cheer me up after that.


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2 Responses to “radiation update”

  1. Annette Says:

    Hi Kaylynne!
    Just got caught up reading your blog! Well, it looks like one adventure down and one to go! For what it is worth, I think you have made the right decision by going for the radiation treatment..you summed it up best when you said you want to know you did everything possible to fight this…and you will win and just think how great of a victory that will be!!
    I am sure you are missing school but let me tell you..it’s like summer vacation never existed!!HAHA We already had 2 – two hour delays and that was fun.:) gotta love fog!
    Well, take care and I’ll keep sending you my good thoughts and prayers…

    • kaylynne50 Says:

      THANKS! I miss you guys!! Just wait ’till I get back to school, I’ll be clogging your “in” boxes with lots ridiculous questions!

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