Ashe Elton Parker

A Writer of LGBTQ+ Characters in Speculative Fiction

Series: Breast Cancer Posts (page 3 of 5)

After Chemo

This entry is part 21 of 44 in the series Breast Cancer Posts

I should have gotten to this sooner, but I’ve actually been waiting for all the immediate side effects of chemo to wear away and I think they’re finally gone. Now I’ll explain what happened, but please keep in mind, this was only my experience, and others will likely experience slightly different side effects from chemo treatment.

Day of chemo, I was only a little weary, I’m fairly certain more due to the fact I hadn’t slept soundly the night before due to worries over getting to the VA on time to do lab work before the treatment. The next day and the one following (Weds and Thurs), I was much more weary, particularly on Wednesday. I think I spent most of the day in bed, making intermittent efforts to rise and do something at my computer. I’d get up, fiddle around a little bit, then be back in bed within two hours. I did this several times throughout the day on Wednesday, though Thursday was slightly the opposite. I may have spent about half of my usual waking hours in bed on Thursday, and finally began to feel more energetic and like writing by that evening. Friday, the draggy feeling was almost completely gone, certainly not strong enough to send me back to bed. I napped, but I do that about two or three days a week anyway, and the only difference was that I slept for three hours instead of about one.

I experienced very little nausea. On Wednesday, I took one of my 24-hour antinausea pills just to make sure I didn’t get sick, but I never got more than a vague feeling of queasiness. I was able to eat normally, have cups of very sweet hot chocolate, and did not vomit. Thursday, I didn’t take an antinausea pill at all, had the same vague feeling of queasiness, and ate normally without anything worse than the queasiness. Friday, I had a little queasiness, but it wasn’t as strong as previous days, and it did nothing to interfere with my appetite or what I ate.

What I did get was a constant headache. I woke up with it on Thursday, and I attributed it to being dehydrated, because I certainly hadn’t drunk enough the previous day to flush my system of the chemo drugs as I’d been advised to do. Sleeping all day definitely interfered with that goal. The headache didn’t go away even though I went through a pitcher and a half of my favorite caffeine free herbal tea and avoided all caffeinated products. It continued through the weekend and didn’t fade until the following Monday or Tuesday. It was not an excruciating headache, but it settled in the front of my head and even aspirin didn’t do anything to alleviate it. I think now it may have been one of the side effects of the chemo treatment, but haven’t read through my information packet again yet to see if such is listed. Will do that probably tomorrow and try to remember to update this post with what I find.

The information on Chemo I received in my hands and was given verbally at the hospital before treatment included conflicting information on how my bowels may be affected as well. There’s no middle ground with this. Options are diarrhea or constipation. Possibly both. I was afflicted with the first from the Friday following my first treatment through the week following, with one excruciatingly painful evening spent on Sunday of that first weekend when I experienced incredible pain in my hips, which proceeded to climb my spine and fill my thigh bones. I could not for hours figure out what the issue was—I didn’t feel a need for a bowel movement, and all other bodily functions including eating did nothing to alleviate the pain or to cause it to worsen. Not even aspirin got rid of this pain. It began at about three or four in the afternoon and lasted until approximately nine at night and did not begin to decrease until I finally felt a need for a bowel movement and ended up spending the next hour in the bathroom doing so. It was, thankfully, not repeated the remainder of the week.

And, I literally just combed a hand through my hair and ended up pulling out a great deal more than comes out naturally, so I think I’m already starting to lose my hair. According to all the information I received from the Oncologists, both verbally and in writing, hair loss is pretty much guaranteed, it’s just a matter of when. If I lose it now . . . oh, well. That’s the least of my concerns, though I’ll miss my grey hair.

Updated to add: I looked at the information I have for my chemo medications, and neither listed headache as a side effect. Next step is to read through the information I received with my pills. Will get to that by next week.

My Chemo Medication Regimen

This entry is part 22 of 44 in the series Breast Cancer Posts

I’ve been wanting to write up an accurate post about this since my first chemo treatment, just didn’t record anything about the process/procedure at the time. Today I did, with the help of a very accommodating nurse named Allen.

I’m required to take two dexamethasone (Decadron) tablets, with food, twice on the day prior to my chemo treatment to prevent nausea.

Day of treatment, I undergo, in the order written, the following medication administration procedure:

1. Dexamethasone x 5 and odansetron (Zofran) x 2. This latter medication is also to prevent nausea. If they come in liquid form, they are administered over half an hour; after swallowing them with orange juice today, I had to wait half an hour for them to be digested.

2. The nurse then flushed my porta-cath with saline solution to ensure there was proper flow for the administration of my chemo medications.

3. He then administered Taxotere (docetaxel), the first of my chemo drugs, running it through a regulator on an IV stand to ensure it didn’t flood my system. This takes about an hour or so.

4. When the regulator stopped beeping, Allen came back in and did another saline flush.

5. Then he proceeded to hook up the Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), the second medication of my chemo regimen, also running its IV tube through a regulator. Approximately another hour or so. I received my lunch near the end of this and was able to eat all of it without any adverse effects.

6. When the Cytoxan finished, Allen returned and disconnected its administration tube from the starter-IV tube, flushed my port with saline again to clean it out, then injected a dose of Heprin to ensure blood doesn’t clot in my port. He then removed the IV-starter tube from my port and patched me up with a bandage.

After this, I was free to pack up and go, which I did.

Tomorrow, I’m to take another two-pills-twice of dexamethasone. In addition, I’m free to decide if I’m willing to take the other two medications prescribed for nausea: odansetron and prochlorperazine maleate. Suggested dose of the Odansetron is one tablet by mouth every four hours if needed, and suggested dose for the prochlorperazine maleate is one tablet by mouth every six hours if needed, not to exceed 40 MG per day. If needed, I’m to take these two other pills on Thursday as well.

Then, that evening, I’m to inject myself with Neulasta (pegfilgrastim) to stimulate production of white blood cells. This must be administered at least 24 hours following chemo treatment, but not before then, and since I finished with chemo at around 1 pm today, tomorrow evening is an acceptable range of time for me to administer the injection.

This is the most accurate explanation of my medication regimen I have access to.

After today’s chemo appointment, I had to make an unexpected appointment with my head Oncologist, Dr. Weis (correct spelling of his name, I hope) for Thursday at 2:30 pm. My mom will be accompanying me since she has some questions to ask, and we intend to get what information we can regarding my PET scan’s results from him at this time.

After I got home today, I received a call from the VA to arrange another appointment with Dr. Weis, this one slated for the 9th of January at noon. I’m to go to the Lab for this so blood can be taken, and I half expect to be called to arrange another echocardiogram. This is prior to any further chemo appointments I may be making, and my mom clearly believes this indicates I won’t be getting any more. I am, needless to say, not quite so confident of this. I think this is simply an interim checkup and I’ll be doing at least one if not two more chemo treatments following this January 9 appointment with Dr. Weis.

Yesterday, I received a call from the genetic counselor, and she was able to tell me I don’t have any known breast cancer gene mutation. This does not rule out a genetic connection, but as they don’t know all the genes which affect this particular cancer, she was unable to tell me what I might expect in future. She told me she’d send me the information she had, but it hasn’t come in yet, so I’ll post more on it after it arrives.

Side Effects Update

This entry is part 23 of 44 in the series Breast Cancer Posts

I’ve had my second chemo treatment, and things have been happening a little differently this time. The side effects don’t seem as severe, and there have been some minor changes in them.

I’ve gotten what I’ll call “chemo mouth” both times. In the written materials I’ve received and according to what I was verbally told by my Oncologists, I was told to expect this to happen. Severe cases include sores in the mouth, and may also include either an inability to taste food or a change in how food tastes, including a metallic flavor. I think it largely depends on your chemo drugs. I did not get sores, but I did get dry spots, especially near my teeth. My chemo mouth includes a dry, cracked sensation on my tongue and dry patches in my mouth, I guess as the cells on my tongue and gums are those which are frequently replaced. This begins on about Friday or Saturday following the chemo treatment, and lasts for about five days to a week. I’m at the tail end of it right now. Food’s flavor does not fail or change for me, but my mouth does become more sensitive to hot temperatures and spices in foods. This I imagine is because of the way the cells are sloughing off, leaving my tongue and gums somewhat raw.

My fatigue was not as profound this time. Though I did spend much of Wednesday in bed, I did not sleep the entire time and was actually able get a bit of writing done. Thursday, I had to go to the VA Hosp, and though I wanted a nap, I was able to stay awake and alert the entire time I was there. I went to bed extremely early both nights—before eight o’clock.

This time, I didn’t get the incredible multiple-day headache I got last time. I got a little minor headache pain, which was taken care of by hydrating on Wednesday. No unusual headache pain the following days.

I had a little bit of constipation on Wednesday and Thursday, but did not have to go to the ER over it, and it was gone by Friday. While I have a bit of diarrhea now, it doesn’t seem as frequent as it was last time, and it’s started yesterday instead of on the weekend. There have also been no bouts of incredible abdominal pain which couldn’t be relieved as I experienced last time, which I’m very happy about.

There is a dry patch of flaky skin on the back of my right hand, above the index and middle finger knuckles. This appeared after my first chemo treatment, so I suspect it’s one of the minor side effects.

I have some small bit of hair left, but I expect it to fall out within the next week. My scalp is also very dry and flaky; I’m not actually sure this is a side effect of the chemotherapy, but I thought I should mention it in case it is. In addition to the dry flakiness, I also have some sharp pain in the skin. This isn’t very pronounced unless I’m touching or brushing my head for some reason, so I try not to do it too often despite the itching. I suspect this sharp pain is a side effect of the chemo, because I had none before treatment, and it seemed to begin at about the same time I started losing my hair.

Genetic Test Results Letter

This entry is part 24 of 44 in the series Breast Cancer Posts

I received the letter from the genetic counselor a couple weeks ago, but it got lost in the detritus of my writing life on the right-hand extension of my desk, which I cleaned up today. Since I promised a more detailed explanation of my genetic test results when I received the letter, that’s what I’m doing today.

Essentially, the results haven’t changed. I now have proof neither BRCA1 nor BRCA2 have deleterious mutations. From what I can see, they don’t have any mutations at all, which is a relief. Part of the reason for the concern is that mutations in either of these genes can cause other types of cancers in men and women. If there had been mutations, I’d have to have at least a partial hysterectomy in addition to a full double mastectomy to prevent future cancer in my breasts and ovaries (for men, it would include the prostate), but there would be no way to effectively prevent the other type of cancer: pancreatic.

According to the letter, approximately 230,000 females and 2,200 males are newly diagnosed with breast cancer each year. 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer over the course of a lifetime and it is the most common malignancy among women in developed countries. The letter also says that family history is the best way of determining whether or not one is at risk for breast cancer and that hereditary breast cancer tends to occur earlier in life than cases like mine, which is termed “non-inherited sporadic.” It is apparently rather rare for someone who has no genetic mutations or family history of breast cancer to develop it at my age; the year of my 40th birthday, which is in November. Other factors which may have some influence over developing breast cancer are “age, gender, reproductive history, alcohol abuse, and radiation exposure.”

The letter goes on to describe method of gene extraction and testing. I understand most of the words on an individual basis, but taken together, they’re rather overwhelming to me at the moment. I’ve never had a very good comprehension of science. LOL

Betrayal

This entry is part 25 of 44 in the series Breast Cancer Posts

I’m generally a pretty cheerful, happy person. I don’t let things get me down. Not even the cancer. There is, however, one thing which hits me every so often, so hard I can’t help but focus on it to the exclusion of all else for a few minutes.

I’ve been betrayed.

My own body betrayed me.

My body developed this cancer. I didn’t ask it to, I didn’t think it would happen, I made no plans for it. I wasn’t prepared for it!

I can’t trust my body any more. Definitely can’t trust my breasts. What if I get another tumor? How will I find it if it’s deep in my breasts? Will I feel it like I did the last one, even if it’s deep within the tissue? What if I don’t feel it? How long will it take me to realize the new tumor is there? How could my body do this to me?

No, I don’t cry. I’m angry. I want my body to be trustworthy. That it isn’t frightens me. Being scared of your own body is no fun. Knowing with a certainty my body could do it again, form another cancer, terrifies me at times.

Even though my BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are without mutations, those are the only genes they know to look for mutations on. There could be a gene they don’t know about which has influence over my body’s predisposition to cancer. It could, like the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, also induce other cancers.

I want to get rid of my breasts. Always wanted to get rid of them anyway, but knowing I got cancer in one of them once already makes me want them off even more now. That’s years away, though. I have to save up for the surgery, and there’s no way I can do it on my current income. I also want a full hysterectomy, for the same preexisting reason I want to remove my breasts, but now also ’cause of the fear I might develop another cancer.

Yes, I know, prognosis is very good for my type of cancer. They got all the cancer out, I’m in chemo, I’ll do radiation, and they’ll put me on hormone suppressants. That doesn’t stop the mistrust of my own body, though.

And it doesn’t stop the fear of it happening again.

Side Effects Update 3

This entry is part 26 of 44 in the series Breast Cancer Posts

I had my third chemo treatment on the 31st of December. Yes, New Year’s Eve. Then I proceeded to sit up past midnight (not really celebrating, but just zoning, fiddling with different things, and generally being a nuisance to myself).

Oops, I forgot to take my prep-antinausea meds the evening before and the morning of my treatment before leaving home. Nurse who did my chemo was displeased. I felt baaaaaad for forgetting my meds. I’m usually very good about taking them. It’s a good thing they provided about 20mg of the antinausea medication as part of chemo at the hospital, or I may not have been able to eat lunch. There was no appreciable difference in my administration-condition regarding stomach upset, though I did feel just vaguely uncomfortable in a very distant way.

Otherwise, my chemo treatment went pretty well. Had a little fun once I realized I could adjust the foot of the bed as well as the head, and had myself quite comfortable once treatment started. I read about halfway through a paperback by a favorite author while I was getting treatment, which was nice.

The next day? I was out most of it. Though I was up between seven and nine that night; there’s an entry on one of my writing logsheets for me starting a new project on that day. I’m not going to say much on it in this post, however, though I will admit it’s my Casi/Vel story.

On Thursday, I had an appointment with my Oncologist, and I was fairly alert for that. Was still draggy due to chemo fatigue, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as the second day after the first treatment, even if it wasn’t as good as it was after my second treatment. Apparently, the severity of side effects fluctuates.

Like the diarrhea. That started the Monday after treatment, and lasted most of the week. Was uncomfortable by the end of last week, but not as tortured as I was after the first treatment’s experience with that week of PottyTime.

Chemo mouth wasn’t as pronounced this time around, either. The most I had was a slight sensitivity to spices and temperature, not nearly as much as after previous treatments. Tongue felt only a little dry, and for a shorter period of time, and I didn’t get any spots on my gums which felt particularly dry. It was more an all-over condition on the roof of my mouth, and not as severe as the spots were.

I have one more chemo treatment, and that’s supposed to happen on the 21st. Following that, I’ll be going in for my radiation setup appointment and then begin radiation. I’ve decided to join the research study they’re performing, so I’m not sure how long I’ll be going in—could be anywhere from three to six and a half weeks. I’ll discuss it more once I know what’s going to happen.

Following Final Chemo

This entry is part 27 of 44 in the series Breast Cancer Posts

I’m glad I had only four cycles of chemo. I had it relatively easy and I know it. My friend JA Marlow‘s mother has a very invasive and aggressive form of brain tumor. Early last year, Mother Hen, as JAM’s mother is called, had surgery to remove the original tumor and radiation. She’s been receiving chemo in pill doses at home. Unfortunately, the tumor has regrown, and it’s in an area which is affecting her much more than the original tumor did.

By comparison? My experience with breast cancer is nothing.

It has been my hope that putting my experiences up online would inform and assist other people with breast cancer, if not other forms. With that in mind, I’ll expound a bit upon my last post-chemo experience.

The fatigue was as profound on Wednesday as on most other previous days. I spent most of the day in bed, but was able to get up, eat, and putter around a little bit, though I was never up long enough for a cup of tea with water properly boiled in a kettle. I drank orange juice most of Weds and Thurs, as that was quick, easy, and tasty—so tasty, in fact, I drank my first two gallons before my three-week cycle period ended. It’s probably what helped me avoid getting sick about a week or so later, as I felt the beginnings of symptoms of an illness my mother recovered from just prior to her visit the week after chemo week, to drop off homemade burrito makings and an apple pie.

On the Friday of chemo week, I went in to see my new official (and hopefully permanent) Oncologist, Dr. Colonna (not sure that’s the correct spelling, but will correct it in later posts if it’s wrong once I’ve seen her again), who is specializing in breast cancer up at the VA. She’s the one who sat and talked to me and Mom all those months ago, answering the many questions my mother and I had about various things to do with my cancer diagnosis. She was pleased with my progress and sent me on my way with encouraging words.

The next week wasn’t as bad, PottyTime wise as previous cycles. I think it may be because I entered a heightened mixed-state phase (my bipolar is mixed-state, meaning I have symptoms and presentations of both mania and depression at the same time) and spent two nights out of that week awake because I couldn’t sleep. I don’t suggest this as a method of shortening the duration of the diarrhea, though that’s what it seemed to do for me. By the end of the week, my PottyTime phase was pretty much over as well, but I was not in any kind of condition worthy of being called “human.” I wasn’t a raving lunatic, or abusive, or temperamental. I was Jell-O. And this despite my two sleepless nights not following one right after the other. There were one or two nights where I actually slept between them.

I finally got fed up and shaved my head of all the straggling hair leftover from chemo-balding. Now I have stubble and fuzz. I did this with my women’s fancy wire-wrapped razor in the shower (the wire wrapping is important. Would not have done this without it) since I don’t have an electric shaver I could have used dry as I generally don’t shave my legs, and that’s what I’d use it for if I had one.

Chemo mouth was more severe. The cycle previous, it had spread to throughout my mouth, and this last cycle, it did the same, only drier. For the first time, this part of post-chemo treatment annoyed me. Could not eat anything spicy, as I learned one night when I made French toast (I put pepper in scrambled eggs, and in my Ft egg mixture with cinnamon, nutmeg, and sweetener, with a dash of salt and a few tablespoons of milk), because I think I exhaled flame after that meal. My mouth hurt for several minutes during and after eating that French toast. Hot temperatures were just as prominent, so drinking my tea while it was still very warm was out of the question; tepid was the hottest I could handle. Also, it felt as if my tongue had numerous cuts on the top, though I don’t think that was actually the case. I tell ya, between heat killing the top of my mouth and even the softest, blandest food torturing my tongue, I’m rather amazed I ate at all. LOL

Earlier this week, I went to the Huntsman Cancer Institute for my radiation setup appointment; I’ll write about it sometime next week.

Radiation Setup Appointment

This entry is part 28 of 44 in the series Breast Cancer Posts

Last week, I went in for my radiation therapy setup appointment. This was a bit involved; after an initial meeting with my Radiation Oncologist, Dr. Poppe (pronounced poppy) and a young doctor (forget if he was a resident or actual doctor) who saw me for a few minutes prior to Poppe’s visit, the staff showed me to a dressing room. I of course received two breast exams.

As always, I requested a plus size gown. I’m so glad this place has them. Makes wearing the suckers much less troublesome and embarrassing (for other people; I don’t really care all that much who sees my breasts, and I’m usually required to wear them while my bottom half is still dressed in street clothes). Anyway, I took my happy little plus size gown into the changing room. This had three or four curtained-off changing areas, each with a bench and a mirror, and about five or six lockers. My boobs are good for something; after donning the robe open in front, I overlapped the edges and tucked the sucker up under my breasts to keep it closed while I stowed my removed clothing and satchel in locker #3.

Back in the corridor, I met the nurse who’d showed me to the dressing room and she led me to the prep chamber. Here, they had me lay on a PET scanner bed and uncovered my right breast, having me remove my arm from the hole. Then, Female Tech went over to prep a mixture which would harden to serve as a guide for my radiation visits. While she did this, Male Tech described the procedure. When FT came back, she had me sit up enough to put the plastic-bagged substance beneath where I lay and told me to rest with my arms up around my head and my head turned to face to the left with the explanation I was to remain in this position until the substance in the large square of blue plastic solidified to make a mold of me laying this way. After they had me organized so they could put me into the machine, they taped the edges of the molding stuff around my arms so I’d have some support. This does not mean they wrapped the corners and edges of the blue bag with the molding agent up over my arms, but that they ensured it would provide support so I wouldn’t grow weary and thus possibly interfere with my future radiation treatments. The molding agent was exothermic, and it grew almost unbearably hot while I lay on it, but even that wasn’t too hot; the room we were in was quite chilled due to efforts to keep the scanner from overheating.

Thus trussed, the techs then marked my skin with ink and stuck little metal stickers on me. These were all meant to guide their scanning and other procedures which I’ll describe a bit later. After applying these things, they scanned me, using the stickers as pointers to plan where to put the majority of the radiation, I guess. I couldn’t see anything as my head was still turned to face to the left. Scanning done, they pulled me out of the machine and paged Dr. Poppe.

When Dr. Poppe arrived shortly, he came with the young doctor who’d seen me earlier. Poppe checked over everything, then noticed my porta-cath was still in. This displeased him a great deal, because he dislikes them being in place during radiation, apparently because they cause some interference with correct dosage hitting the spot; see, my breasts are so large, the breast tissue goes right up to my collarbone, particularly with the right breast, which is about one or two sizes larger than the left. I asked Dr. Poppe if he wanted me to see if I could get the port removed prior to treatment, and he fervently agreed with that plan, discussed things with the techs some more, then departed.

Female Tech remained, announcing she would tattoo me next. I asked what this was for. Apparently, they use little dot-tattoos as guides for radiation treatment. After explaining the tattoos would only look like little moles or skin blemishes, she put one on each side under my arms and one in the center of my chest between my breasts. This involved very little. She inked my skin, then I felt a little pinprick she warned me I’d feel so the ink would enter my skin. I didn’t even bleed.

After, Male Tech came back and they removed the stickers and mold, which had solidified at last, and helped me sit up and cover myself. I returned to the changing room and dressed once more, then saw the head of the Radiation Research Study, Crelley, who had me sign a form to join, then made sure I had the okay to go before leaving.

Have talked to Crelley since, and she said I was randomized into the 3-week arm of the research study, where I’ll be getting a higher dose of radiation. This pleased me, especially since Dr. Poppe expressed concern I may not be able to get into the study at all due to consistency of breast tissue and breast size.

Porta-Cath Removal

This entry is part 29 of 44 in the series Breast Cancer Posts

My port was removed on the 25th of February. This proved to be a much less involved procedure than having it put in was. The female physician’s assistant (at least, I think she was a physician’s assistant) who put my port in did the removal.

For this, she took me to a private room. After verifying everything, she had me remove my shirt and bra and I settled on the abbreviated exam bed/table while she laid everything out. Since my right breast was of some small concern, I asked if she wanted to tape it down; she refused, and we figured out a way to restrain it using the sheet she covered me with.

Next, she injected a numbing agent into my skin and the tissue around the port in my chest. Once everything was numb, she reopened the scar I had from my cath placement, asking me if I felt anything. I said I didn’t. Next, she explained tissue grows around the cath, so she had to cut that away, and she proceeded to do so. I told her I felt pulling and pressure but no pain, and she advised me to tell her if I felt any pain and she’d give me more of the numbing agent. She went on to add that some people stitch the cath into place, as it has holes just for such purpose, but that she doesn’t. It was at this point I realized she had placed my porta-cath, while the attending physician simply oversaw things and responded to my questions, so I asked if she’d done many of these procedures, and she told me she’d done a few hundred each of placements and removals.

By this time, she had the tissue all cut away and pressed on my neck where the tube entered my jugular vein. She didn’t press hard, and I felt nothing when she pulled the cath out. For a moment, I saw it, but she quickly put it down out of my sight and picked up a gauze pad to mop up the blood which had come out. She held her fingers on my jugular until she was certain it wouldn’t bleed.

After this, she stitched me shut. Now, I felt pinpricks of pain with this, and she explained that may be because the scar tissue from the last incision may not have adequately absorbed the numbing agent (I want to call it Novocain, but I know that wasn’t it). Last time, a kind of pimple developed at one end of the scar as it healed, so this time she made sure to tuck the sutures in well enough it wouldn’t happen again. Final step was bandaging the wound; she did this with a Tegaderm Film patch which she’d stuck a folded gauze pad in the center of.

After I’d dressed and was afoot once more, I asked to see the porta-cath and she showed me what it looked like. It had a drum-shaped reservoir-section where the injections are made through a special substance which doesn’t allow things in or out. The bottom did indeed have three holes for suturing the cath in place, and the tube was about six inches long; as the physician’s assistant explained it, this is so the tube can go deep into the vein so there’s no chance of the chemo chemicals escaping. Basically, they go almost right into the heart. I thanked her for being willing to explain everything and she sent me on my way with a compliment about how good a patient I’d been.

Radiation Sim

This entry is part 30 of 44 in the series Breast Cancer Posts

At three in the afternoon, 26 February of this year, I had my radiation simulation appointment.

This was pretty involved, compared to the radiation treatments themselves. After changing into a hospital gown open in the front, I was taken to the radiation chamber. In this room they have the radiation machine. It’s kind of hard to describe, but it has a table/bed with a slightly-propped up head beneath an overhanging unit which actually administers the radiation. I’m sure the head of the bed can be lowered, but for this it was left propped up and had my mold on it; there’s a slot in the table, and a protrusion on the bottom of my mold so it doesn’t slip. The techs covered the table and mold with a sheet, and there was a little butt-rest. After I got on the table, they tucked a knee pillow under my legs.

Then I laid there for about half an hour or so while they did various things.

First was positioning me. After commanding me to lay like a lead weight, the techs proceeded to quote numbers at each other (ninety-nine five is a popular one) and adjust my position minutely. This involved tugging the sheet beneath me, pushing my legs around, and making sure my upper body was properly positioned in its mold. They then drew circles around the tattooed dot on my right side and between my breasts.

They took X-Rays to mark my position so they could do comparisons later to make sure I’m in the same position for radiation treatments. The head of the machine moved as well, I guess so they could determine where it should be for optimum radiation dosage. An oblong oval was also drawn on my breast, one end going around the inside of my areola and extending to past the seven o’clock position on my breast. This was done in black marker; they also made another mark in green to assist with their adjustments of the machine.

They had a Pandora music station playing and allowed me to choose what I wanted to listen to, so aside from paying attention and asking questions whenever a tech was in the room with me, I got to relax to some good music.

When they were done, one of the techs told me not to wash off the black ink on my breast ’cause they’d need it for guidance the next day. I told him that might be a challenge, half-joking, and he offered a Tegaderm patch and stuck it on the portion of the oval which extends past the seven o’clock position. That done, I was escorted back to the waiting room and returned to the changing room from there to dress.

« Older posts Newer posts »

© 2019 Ashe Elton Parker

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑