Friday, October 30, 2009

Radiation side effects

I'll do another post like this in a couple of weeks because the radiation oncologist says the side effects peak 2 weeks after treatment is completed (since the radiation keeps working for 2 weeks).

For now though, I'm doing really well. My skin is pink, and where the scar is, is very tender to touch, but no broken skin or blisters. I'm definitely tired, but that's still leftover chemo too. So really not bad, this treatment has gone by very quickly.

From the chemo, most of my muscle aches are gone, although my right arm is very achey (which is also where I'm being radiated so who knows...). The only other thing is my toes are numb (the pins and needles feeling). All 10 toes, all the time. That's common too from the taxotere, but gets quite annoying. But I've heard some people end up with bad nerve pain in their feet, so I'm not complaining (much) about numbness...

Have a good weekend and a fun Halloween everyone!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Radiation 'boost'

I finished my 16 'regular' radiation treatments yesterday. Today was my first of 4 'boost' treatments. The 'boost' dose of radiation is given directly to where the tumor originally was, and is supposed to further reduce the chance of re-occurrence. It's similar to the other radiation treatments - they place you in the exact position using your tattoo markings. Usually there are 2 or 3 radiation techs - good job for a perfectionist! Then they leave the room and the machine does its work. You don't feel anything at all, but you can hear the machine.

The best part was when they gave me my schedule for next week, there's a happy face after Tuesday's treatment, since that is the last one!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Some Stats on Breast Cancer (in Canada)

Source: Canadian Cancer Society /National Cancer Institute of Canada. Canadian Cancer Statistics 2009, Toronto, Canada, 2009

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among Canadian women.

In 2009, an estimated 22,700 women in Canada will be diagnosed with breast cancer. On average, 437 women will be diagnosed every week.

In 2009, an estimated 5,400 women will die from breast cancer in Canada.

One in nine (11%) Canadian women is expected to develop breast cancer during her lifetime (this means by age 90).

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

me and my dad - matching hairstyles

really, my hair has started growing back, you just can't see it in the picture...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Radiation #9

I am off to radiation #9 today (out of 20). Still doing okay, its going pretty quickly. And I got the call for my appointment to get my port out!! Oct 30th (just in time to be out for my birthday!)

Anyone have anything to say about getting that port-a-cath taken out? It sounds pretty simple - in the doctor's office, local freezing, about a 15-minute procedure. Any after effects?

Have a great week everyone!

p.s. this picture shows where the port is (surgically placed under the skin allowing direct access to a large vein near the heart for chemo).

Friday, October 16, 2009

a funny one

Zach (my almost 15-year old) got his braces off yesterday. When I picked him up, he was holding a goody bag from the orthodontist filled with popcorn, tootsie rolls, gum, caramels, etc - everything he couldn't have while he had braces. I thought that was hilarious!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Radiation # 7 - getting sensitive

My scar area started getting sensitive after #6. I also noticed the whole area was quite achey when I was trying to sleep last night. I mentioned it at treatment this morning (they ask you every day how you are doing). They said its all normal - the scar area typically gets irritated first, just keep applying cream several times a day (I'm using glaxal base). The muscle type aches are because the area swells (gets inflamed) from the radiation. Advil should help.

7/20 done, this is going pretty quickly.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Radiation #5

So far so good. Completed 4 treatments last week, and today was my first of 4 this week. No side effects so far, and going for treatment is easy and painless. I'm glad it's at a different hospital than where I went for chemo, so I have no anxiety or even real association with cancer walking in.

My hair is slowly starting to come back on the sides. Nothing on top yet, but I hear that is the usual way it comes back. My eyebrows are completely gone, but I'm quite comfortable with my eyebrow pencil. My friend's mom who is 5 months ahead of me in treatment just had her 2nd haircut, and she looks great!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Radiation #1

Got the call last Friday to start Tuesday morning, so yesterday was the 1st radiation treatment. First thing I learned was that I am not doing 25 treatments, I am doing 20 (16 to the whole breast, and 4 'boosts' which are targeted to where the tumor had been). So that gives me a bit of breathing space to complete this before my 'girls getaway'.

I go every day, except weekends and holidays, so I should finish on Nov 3rd.

First time took about an hour and a half, with meeting the doctor first, then the treatment (which takes longer the first time) and then meeting with someone after to discuss skin care. Future treatments should be much quicker, as the actual radiation part is only two 90 second blasts. I should be in and out in 10 minutes.

The most common side effects are sun burn (varies between people) and fatigue. And there is also a 1/2000 chance of the radiation causing sarcoma, a different type of cancer. Of course, they reminded me that chemo also had a small chance of causing leukemia. Obviously they have determined the risks are worth it.

They recommended using Glaxal Base, a moisturizing cream, on the affected area, 3-4 times/day, starting day 1. Other than that, they just say to let them know what problems occur and they can recommend something specific for that (dry, itchy skin, burns, blisters, open skin, etc.). Sounds fun (not).

Really though, I have no worries going into this. I am planning to drive myself everyday, and then do something while I'm out. Today, I am going for lunch with my dad.

Have a great day everyone!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Waiting for radiation

First, thanks for the advice and reassurance on the muscle aches. Still have them, guess I just have to wait it out, must be the chemo still working its way out.

I'm still enjoying my walks, even as the weather gets colder. No complaints about the weather here, compared to the Philipinnes, Indonesia, etc. They are having crazy, dangerous weather over there.

I went for bloodwork on Tuesday, and its coming along. My white blood counts are back in the normal range, and my hemoglobin has come up quite a bit. It's at 115 (120 is the bottom of the normal range, so I'm getting closer). Good enough for them to put my name on the list for my port removal.

I was told radiation was tentatively starting Monday, then Wednesday, then Thursday, but no confirmations. Today I got a call saying my 'plan' is ready and I should get a call later today with my start date/time. No call.

So, I am heading to the lake early tomorrow and hopefully I'll get a message that radiation will start Monday. Normally I wouldn't be so rushed to get started, but I'm on a timeline. We have a little 'girls getaway' planned starting Nov 11th, and now I'm worried my 25 treatments are going to get very close to that date.

Have a good weekend everyone!