Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Radiation Ramblings

1/3 finished with the last 1/3 of my cancer treatment!! Woo Hooo!! Okay, yeah, so I need to find little markers along the way to make myself feel like this will end soon. But that's a pretty good one don't you think? I see this "odyssey" as 1/3 diagnosis and surgery, 1/3 chemo and 1/3 radiation. So now I'm through with 11 of my 33 radiations--the final one-third. In just over 3 weeks, I will be through this! (Have I mentioned there will be a party?)

This morning, I have to say, was kind of fun at the radiation center. Fun? Yeah, it was. They were a little backed up so there was some back-up in the waiting room. The usual crowd, minus Mrs. 8:45 (I suspect she got in and out early and they took a little break because um....I on time). So I took a seat in my hot blue hospital gown and very quickly was joined by Ms. 9:15 and then a woman I've seen several times before who is always in a blonde wig but doesn't seem to have a "normal" appointment time. (Oh, and for the record, I can't tell if the 9:15 appointment is the woman there this morning--who is usually in a newsboy cap only--no wigs for her-- and very friendly, or the guy who wears a type of hat I always associate with fishing; they both seem to always be there by the time I get done with my appointment). Anyway, we three women were in our lovely blue gowns when newsboy cap and I struck up a conversation about our matching attire, which led to why the women were all in gowns but the men weren't. After a little discussion we discovered we were all breast cancer patients. And that allowed us to quickly realize that the men were getting radiated a little bit lower and that the hospital gowns would create an entirely different issue for them. And um, for us. We're kind of grateful they aren't in gowns.

Next, newsboy cap, blondie and I (I was a redhead today) discussed hair choices and eventually newsboy cap asked me how I tied the scarves the way I did (i.e. like a pirate, or a gypsy, or a biker...depending on your viewpoint). I spent a few minutes trying to explain it--with quite exaggerated hand movements combined with bad directions as I am wont to do, and she kept laughing and saying "stop! wait! I have chemo brain!" We actually were laughing quite a bit. Unfortunately, they came out to get me for my radiating time before I could be sure she understood and a scarf-tieing fashion show does not slow down the radiation machine. But I told her I'd bring a scarf next time and we'd go over it again. Frankly, I'm thinking she has the right idea--scarves and hats sure, but I am tiring of the wigs. Especially as my little tiny hairs start to poke out on my head. It's getting a little itchy!

After radiation (where the therapists once again commented on my shoes--they don't think they've seen the same pair twice. I'm not sure I can keep that up....but darn it, now I'm likely to try!!), much to my surprise, it was time to see the doctor. That normally happens on Thursday. But my doctor is on vacation so there is another doctor covering for her and he's in on Wednesday. Turns out he was also a really nice guy. And he gave props to my surgeon. Yep, he was super impressed with the scar from my surgery. Once again, kudos to Dr. Karam!! This is pretty much the only time a woman can take her top off (speaking of pairs) and be happy when the first response from the man in the room is "Wow, nice scar!!" He said he'd seen a lot of surgery scars and they can be a mess, but mine was nice, clean, straight and looked like it would fade away nicely. Oh, and so far my skin is tolerating the radiation nicely. He wasn't even too bothered by my excess suntan. He just said "We like to do the suntanning around here, so try not to beat us to it." So noted. And I gave the sunburn an extra dose of aloe vera. The doctor and I chatted for so long eventually the nurse came to break it up. It makes such a difference when the doctor actually cares.

Sure, I'd rather not be there, but if I have to be in a medical appointment every morning, it's good to have such nice, funny and interesting people there with me.


  1. Teresa, i read one of your comments on the mybreastcancer website and decided to have a look at your blog. I'm glad to find another woman who can see the funny side of breast cancer.

    Like you, I'm going through radiation (Treatment 22 today) and have devoted myself to livening up the waiting room, having done this quite successfully at the chemo clinic.

    As they say when they start zapping you - keep your chin up!

  2. I'm really happy your doc wasn't looking at the clock!
    On a work related note, I've gotten tons of insight into what it's like for a cancer patient from reading your blog. People call me needing slides and reports, (being in the basement of the hospital I hardly get to see the folks who call me) and I like being one of the people can tell them "I'll take care of things, don't worry". I'm glad you have Chris and all your great friends down there to tell you the same.

  3. Sue--thanks for you comments. At 22 radiations, you are my hero!! I aspire to be there (10 more treatments to get there). I can't imagine going through this without a sense of humor.

    Michael--super excited that you're coming down for the party!! We'll save a couch for you! And of course you are one of the people who takes care of things for the patients and the doctors trying to help their patients. Thanks on behalf of all of us nervous stressed out patients.


Comments mean you care. That's all I'm saying.