Friday, February 24, 2012

Radiation Week 2

Monday Feb. 20th - All went well today. I started this week at my new appt. time 7:40 AM. Its very early, but I'm trying to do my best at getting to Goshen and getting back so that Nate is able to head to work as early as possible. Today I was even back early enough to take Max to school. I feel like anxiety is kicking in this week just with the daily appts. Last night I felt a little nauseated and again on the way to Goshen this morning, along with some emotional distress. I feel like its too early for this to be kicking in seeing as I still have 5 weeks to go. Hopefully it will get better as the week goes on. I'm also very tired today I didn't have the energy to go exercise like I had planned.

Tuesday Feb. 21st - Left the house this morning with very normal morning weather conditions 25 minutes into my trip I was wondering what anyone was doing out on the road. It started snowing so badly that I could barely see anything. Thankfully I made it to my treatment and had a very slow ride home. My marking on my chest is covered by a clear round sticker and that was replaced today, treatment was normal although I felt out of position the numbers were all lined up correctly. When they placed the bulos (a flabby, wet, rubbery material, that is used to 'fool' the radiation beam so it will deposit the maximum dose on the skin surface instead of a fraction of an inch deeper, as it would otherwise) I could feel the "sunburn" feeling. I still have a little bit of a nauseated feeling today and also in my throat it feels like I have heart burn or acid re flux unfortunately its from the radiation that they are doing to my throat. Doc was in a meeting today so I didn't see him as planned since he will be gone on Thursday I will see one of the other physicians tomorrow. Very tired again today.

Wednesday Feb. 22nd - More snow on the way to and from Goshen, but not a drop in sight here in Columbia City so crazy!  Treatment was fine today, my therapist Katie told me since the Doc wasn't in to see me and I was just going to see one of his associates I could sneak out without seeing anyone so I did, stopped and talked to the nurse a bit about my sore throat its worse today when I swallow or cough it feels like my throat and chest are on fire, and eating food is similar to swallowing pebbles. I'm gonna try the honey for a few days and if that doesn't help the nurse said they could prescribe me something. I've also had an issue with burping a lot after treatment. She said it could be do to my diaphragm getting some radiation to it.

Thursday Feb. 23rd - Milestone Day, 1/3 of the way done with treatments 11 down 22 to go!! I had scans done today, and it was another eventful driving day as it was very foggy across all the counties and the roads were icy once I got to Warsaw. The kids have no school today due to the fog so hopefully I can make it through the day without being too grouchy as I'm very tired again today. My throat and chest feel like fire when I cough today swallowing is ok so far this morning, but I am coughing more. One more day left in this week!!

Friday Feb. 24th - Treatment as normal today, I was finally pushed in to see the on call physician since Dr. Doctor is out this week, this guy was a little strange not only because he had a plaid tie with striped collared shirt on, but because he basically just read off my chart the whole time he was with me. My throat is feeling pretty crappy today. and I'm tired again today. After my treatment I got to have breakfast with me sweet friend Nicky. 12 down, 21 to go!!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Radiation Week 1 (plus 2 days)

Thursday Feb. 9th - Day 1 of radiation. Today was a longer appt. because we were unsure of if we wanted to go down this path. Dr. Doctor of course assured us it was the right thing to do and was gracious in answering our questions, and was glad we asked. Treatment was the longest it will be today. Laying on a hard table with my hands above my head for between 30-40 min. They took x-rays, and measurements to make sure they were hitting the right area's. So far feeling, a little itchy in the evening.

Friday Feb. 10th - Got the kids up for the first time since the beginning of the school year, got them on the bus and left for my appt. In and out, it took about 20 minutes in total and they had to take a couple x-rays again just to make sure they are still shooting the right area. No pain, but a lot of fatigue later in the day. My appts will be at 8 am for the next week and then we'll move to 7:40.

Monday Feb. 13th - Today there were more measurements. Its a little un-nerving that they have to measure every time so far, and then today they say once your measurements match up a couple days in a row we will only measure once a week. Yikes! As I lay on the table today I tried to listen to the sounds, and this is what I came up with its like being on an airplane. As I lay in the room I hear the rushing sound of air similar to a fan, or as you are waiting to taxi down the runway, then a ding sometimes 2 that sounds distinctly like the seat belt sign from the captain. Then when the radiation turns on it sounds like a buzz of an open door, and then you hear what sounds like the release of hydraulics. Its good, I can imagine I'm getting ready to take off to some place tropical! I also got to have a coffee date with my friend Rachel today, and that was good!

Tuesday Feb. 14th - Happy Valentines Day! I had to get out a little early this morning as their was a fresh blanket of snow covering the ground... and roads! Travel wasn't too bad but it took me a full hour to get to Goshen. They did not take any measurements or extra scans today so I was in and out in no time. My skin is starting to feel warm when I leave and somewhat itchy through-out the day. Starting to have a little cough afterwards on the ride home, but its soon gone. Shoveled the drive when I got home, but now I have zero energy.

Wednesday Feb. 15th - no measurement scans again today I guess they feel pretty confident they are shooting the area. The last two days during the first round of beams my throat has felt like when you have a really bad cold and you wake up all mucussy and gross in the back of your throat. I'm pretty sure its because of the radiation because it happens almost immediately after they are done with that section. Today I've had a random cough most of the day, and I was a little nauseated today on the drive home. Tomorrow I am suppose to have my Thursday check in with the Doc. I walked 2 miles tonight at the Y, feelin' it!

Thursday Feb. 16th - nothing much different today. We did some measurement scans and luckily they didn't have to move me at all so they must be doing something right. I met with the Doc. after radiation he was pretty much in and out. Nothing much to say. The muscle in my breast is a little sore just on the radiation side, and I noticed tonight that I am a little pink and sun burnt feeling exactly a week after my first treatment. Again today I noticed the mucussy feeling down the back of my throat almost at the exact moment that I was being zapped. Took Bentley on a walk tonight and tomorrow I plan to check out Anytime Fitness weighed in today at 70 Kg.yikes! Only down 1 Kg in 2 weeks! I was pretty exhausted today, but I think if I try and keep working out my energy level might get better.

Friday Feb. 17th - Woohooo I made it week one done! Today wasn't bad the pinkness had gone away by this morning, but of course was back again this afternoon. Although I'm starting to feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog day I made it through the first week. I told my therapist today how I knew exactly when the were doing the treatment to my throat because of the mucussy feeling and she said she'd never heard that from any other patients. Yippee I'm special in another great and fun way. It was a long day and I'm completely exhausted. I did go to Anytime Fitness today and worked out for about 45min or so, then got a call for a showing on the house so I had to speed clean. Got my workout in and then some. See the Doc next week on Tuesday. Hoping my skin stays decent through-out the weekend.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Comfort to Consequence

After a long week and a half of thinking, I went in to radiation today not sure if I would come out radiated or not. With each phase of treatment, there was not many questions. Of course we had concerns with surgery and chemotherapy, and we knew there could be side effects, but we did not question the treatment. We did what we thought needed to be done. After receiving the radiation education and talking to as many people as would listen, I just wasn't sure it was for me, I had questions, lots of questions as noted in the last post.
So today we went in armed with our questions and prayers of making the right decision. Ready to walk away or ready to get started we were not yet set on.

However, I did consider lots of things on the way to Goshen such as: All this time we've been praying for my Doctors, that they would make the best choices possible in the way of my care. It seemed sort of hypocritical to question them now. I was showering this morning listening to music, a random play list and the only song I could remember was Because He lives, and the verse "Because He lives, I can face tomorrow, because He lives all fear is gone, because I knooooooow he holds the future...". I was also sent a verse by a friend this week that knew I was facing this decision, yet she sent it to me regarding a completely different matter Psalm 56:11 In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.  I also wrestled with the thought this week that no matter what I do God knows when I will take my last breath. Whether I decided to do radiation or not it will not prolong or end my life any sooner then God has already planned.

So after all of that and a good 20 minutes of quizzing the Dr. we decided to go ahead and proceed with radiation. I will tell you there was not an overwhelming sense of calmness once that decision was made. I felt fine about the decision, but once we made it I had a short 20 minutes to prepare myself that I was actually going to do it, and as I lay on the table being prepared to have my first treatment lots of things were going through my mind. Starring at the beautiful fake tulip tree over the lights above me I began to think about how much burden this will cause for everyone involved on my end. People to take care of Max when needed, Nate to rearrange his schedule for the next 6 weeks so that I can go and be treated every morning, our bank account, and how much gas we will be purchasing along with any other cost to get there, and then the side effects I've been warned about that will effect me daily. Skin pain, and fatigue and how Max may not understand all of that, and just think of it as another day that Mommy wants to lay on the couch. You are probably wondering how long I was laying there about now... (about 40 min).

Once I was done, I got dressed, got my husband, and left. As I got in the car and started the engine this was the first thing I heard:

You must...
You must think I'm strong
To give me what I'm going through

Well forgive me
Forgive me if I'm wrong
But this looks like more than I can do
On my own

I know I'm not strong enough to be
everything that I'm supposed to be
I give up, I'm not strong enough

Hands of mercy won't you cover me
Lord right now I'm asking you to be
Strong enough, strong enough 
For the both of us

This is a song that I have listened to several times through-out this journey, but even today it took on new meaning. So now as I begin phase 3 of my battle against this disease I ask for your continued prayers for my mind to be at ease about the things I cannot change, peace in knowing things will and are being taken care, and travel safety as I drive each morning during the week to get my treatments.
1 down 32 to go!!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

A Burning Bush

Tonight I'm praying for a burning bush, No..... not the kind you plant, the kind that is in the Bible. Not literally, but something that is a very clear sign to me on my next stage of treatment. So here is what I am struggling with, the pros and cons of radiation:
It will help prevent my cancer from returning 
It increases my chance of survival
My doctors are strongly recommending it            
It could cause a secondary cancer (in a study done 9% of people got a second cancer 8% was caused by radiation, and more than half of those were breast and prostate cancer survivors)
It could cause heart damage/failure
It will damage at least 20% of my lung

Some other things I was told by my doctor were that I am not a typical candidate for radiation. They usually recommend it for patients who's tumor was larger then 5cm and had 4 or more lymph nodes affected. My largest tumor was 2cm and only 2 of my lymph nodes were affected, but because of my age they are recommending that I go through with the treatment. The above mentioned study also speaks to those who are young when having their initial cancer are at greater risk of developing a second cancer with radiation. I will also be at much greater risk for skin cancer in the area that radiation will be given which is from my neck down to almost the bottom of my rib cage, and from the middle of my chest all the way to my side on the right side. Its a big area, in which most would be covered during times when I'm in the sun, but there is still quite a bit exposed that I would need to worry about. With boating and swimming being a big part of our lifestyle in the summer months it would be something I would continuously have to worry about. 
Radiation methods have changed and improved a lot since the study I read was done, but at this time it has been long enough to determine long term effects with the newer methods. Obviously I'm not going to base my decision off this one study, but it is one of the best I found regarding statistics.

So anyhow I will stop boring you all with facts and statistics I just need to get this out of my head. Up until now I hadn't questioned my treatment plan, but now that I'm moving on to the next stages, and I've been given some education on radiation and time to think I feel so unsure of what to do. It scares me to make these kind of decisions not knowing what the outcome could be either way. Its not like deciding brown shoes or black its a whole other ball game and it feels like the weight of the world.