First week of radiation done...not too bad.

5 radiation treatments down...and 12 more to go! I wanted to make it a point to dedicate a few blog entries to my experience with radiation. I was curious about other people's experiences with it, so was trying to look for blogs about it and really could not find too much. I think that by the time people finish chemo, they are just so relieved to be done, that radiation does not seem like much to write about...which I totally understand, but still just wanted to know more about it from other people's personal experiences. So I will tell you about my own!

So far, radiation has not been that bad. Other than a red and warm chest, I haven't really felt very different. My chest feels similar to getting a sunburn. The next day after my first radiation, I felt a little nauseous, but haven't felt that way since. I feel more tired than usual, but was already feeling fatigued before starting radiation. My appointments are Monday-Friday at 3:30 PM, and only take about 10 minutes. When I go there, the ladies at the front desk let me go to the back where I head to the women's changing room area. I change into a hospital gown, and sit in the little waiting area in that same room. The techs come and get me and I head back to the room where I receive the radiation. They position me properly, and make sure that I am in the same exact position every single time, they line up my "tattoos" to the machine in order to do this. I have to reach my hands above my head and hold on to a bar, and am told to stay completely still...but to breathe normally. I always feel like it's so hard to stay still when you know that you HAVE to. They then leave the room for a few minutes, come back in and tell me I am done. Pretty simple and easy process. I see my Radiology Oncologist every Thursday, and she just checks my skin to make sure everything looks good and checks to see if I am experiencing any side effects from the radiation. I saw her yesterday, and she said all looks normal. After every treatment, I go home and put aloe vera gel on my chest and on my back (since I heard the radiation goes right through you). I got 99% aloe vera from Whole Foods. My Doctor said to get unscented and uncolored aloe vera. I then put Aveeno lotion over that to help moisturize my skin. I'm sure that there are even better products out there, but these seem to be helping me.

Since starting radiation on Monday, I have met SO many wonderful women while waiting in the women's changing room area. They are all extremely nice, and their stories are just amazing to me. The six women that I have met so far, all have breast cancer and are all a wide variety of ages...between 32 to 85. I know that I do not have breast cancer, but I want to stress the importance for women to check their breasts frequently for lumps! I have met a lot of young women with my type of cancer...but even more who have breast cancer. The lady I met today was only in her late 40's when she felt a lump in her breast, but had just gotten laid off from her job and had no insurance so put off going to the Doctor. She asked many organizations for help, but was turned away due to budget cuts. She even attempted to contact the Susan G. Komen foundation multiple times, and never got a phone call back...this made me disgusted! The pain and lumps had gotten so bad, that she eventually went to the E.R. and was told that she most likely had breast cancer. It was eventually confirmed that she did have breast cancer for sure, and it had spread to her bones and liver. Her prognosis is not good...only 3-5 years, but it is amazing how positive and optimistic she remains. She has a new job and works everyday in order to make her mortgage payment. She is a true inspiration! She is not married and has no kids, and really only has her sister for emotional support. This made me so sad, and also made me remember just how lucky I am to have such great support from my family and friends. I wish everyone going through cancer had the kind of support that I have been fortunate enough to have through this whole journey. As absolutely horrible as having cancer has been for me, I would have never had the opportunity to meet the amazing people that I have if I had never had it...that almost makes it all worth it...ALMOST :)

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