During my masectomy, my surgeon removed some lymph nodes for testing. I guess this is pretty standard. I had 5 removed and tested. All 5 came back positive. Talk about a blow. My doctors were all surprised by this. The scans were all clear and externally, the nodes looked and felt completely healthy. After a couple of opinions, it was decided and agreed that I would not have another surgery or more lymph nodes removed. Both the oncologists were confident that radiation and medication would keep the cancer from growing and spreading if it didn’t kill it.
My radiation oncologist is an incredible person. I have to admit, I lucked out in the doctor department. He spent so much time explaining everything to me; from diagnosis to radiation treatment. For the first time, I really understood what was going on, and what was about to go on, inside my body.
For my type of cancer, the stage, and the size of cancer removed, there is a standard in regards to treatment – 28 treatments with a 5 treatment kicker. Due to the condition of my skin (already being stretched and tight), my doctor was confident the 28 treatments would be sufficient. So, on June 1st, my journey into radiation began.
At first, I was like, “What the heck is everyone complaining about?” It was so simple. I’d go in, put on a gown, lie on a table for 15-20 minutes, get dressed, and leave. Really?? That was it? After about 2 weeks, I started to feel pretty worn down and tired and my skin was getting sensitive. After week 3 I wanted to cry. My skin was literally flayed. Even the time when I was a teenager and I burnt so bad in the sun that my skin blistered, was a walk in the park compared to this. And the ointments and creams they suggested….whatever! They did absolutely nothing to help or lessen the pain, skin condition or discomfort. Thank goodness my radiation oncologist was a nice, kind and compassionate man. Right before my last week, he gave me a few days off to let my skin recover a bit. I don’t know what I would have done if he didn’t do that. I’ve seen the results of the patients who did not have that short reprieve. I had it easy compared to them.
I can say this – neither treatment was easy. For me, radiation wasn’t as bad as chemotherapy. But all I really did was graduate up from one level of Hell to the next. I guess the only good news was I was moving up out of Hell after being violently thrown in.