Radiation day was upon me and I was extremely nervous as I really did not know what to expect. They had shown me the machine, I had been in for a trial yet there is still that feeling of not knowing what the machine actually did (besides omit radiation), I guess my big concern was is it going to hurt? So I dressed up included heels and a great makeup job, hair complete to ensure I looked my best! The old “you feel your best when you look your best trick!
The staff were so friendly upon arrival, yet the waiting room didn’t feel so welcoming! There were at least 6 other patients all waiting around. All some what older than myself, and all looking extremely unwell. I couldn’t help but look at Hubby and give him that I hope that is not me soon look.
I didn’t have to wait long at all (they run a pretty tight schedule when it comes to appointments) before I was given a gown and entered the change room! Time for a quick selfie in my lovely hospital gown before being taken into the radiation treatment room! I was extremely nervous yet kind of calm at the same time. Very weird.
Laying on the bed whilst they were fussing over me, yelling out measurements and then placing the bolus which they had made over my breast to help protect my lung from the radiation. Strapped it down and we were ready to commence. The time between them yelling out my name and details and walking along to their office to perform the radiation seemed like forever, waiting for the first initial burst also seemed like forever. Whilst they had ensured it wouldn’t hurt and I wouldn’t even feel anything and it was no different to having an x-ray the unknown still caused my arms and body to start shaking!. The machine makes its beeping noise and then I could hear a burst which lasted no longer than 20seconds and then a beeping noise again with another burst again no longer than 20 seconds and it is all complete! Still my body could not stop shaking. I was no longer than 10 minutes including get undressed and redressed. I walked out feeling great that it was so quick and efficient and feeling great that it didn’t hurt or really do anything to be worried about.
Hubby and I went to have a drink to help calm the shakes and prepare me for rest of treatment. I decided that it would be a daily treat to find a different pub after each treatment and have a quick beer! (This did not last long!).
Everyone I spoke to, anyone who asked how I was getting on! I was great! Couldn’t believe that radiation is so quick and easy and couldn’t believe that people don’t opt for something that didn’t appear to be so invasive and as harsh on the body than Chemo seemed to be! I thought to myself that if this was all it was to be it would actually be one of the most easier treatments I had endured through my whole life and I have had quite a few!. 6 Weeks total of this and hopefully I’m cancer free! Bring it On!!!!
Boy was that statement wrong! 2 weeks into my treatment and I began to see and feel that this definitely was not one of the easier treatments I had endured! My breast was red red raw, it didn’t matter how much cream I had bathed it in, I could not get the burning sensation to go away! Everyday at around 4pm I would find myself incredibly tired and have to take a nap sometimes for 30mins other times for an hour or two. I still kept thinking to myself these are still minor ailments compared to what some go through so suck it up don’t whinge and keep pushing through. My chest hurt to the point that I hated having anything touching it (that included clothing) most days once I had completed my mummy chores (school pick up, drop off, lunches, groceries etc) I would come home strip off my tops and go to bed, I would have a dressing gown or something on standby to cover my chest should Brady come into the room as he still wasn’t aware that I was having any treatment and I didn’t want him to discover it. I Itched, ached, and burnt all at the same time!
Unfortunately by the 3rd week of treatment I felt like I was suffering (fully aware that so many people were dealing with many other problems far worse than myself). I was constantly cold and just could not breathe. I had never experienced shortness of breathe in my entire life like this and given that I have had so many punctured lungs that was certainly saying something. Because I was so short of breathe I was constantly tired and slept quite a lot. I felt nauseated and just did not feel like eating (given how tiny I am that is not a great option for me). Also tried to avoid conversation as it was just too hard! Our house was a nightmare with all the stairs so I found it much easier to stay upstairs on or in bed! Thankfully my husband is amazing and would constantly run up and down the stairs for me!. He also picked up a lot of the mummy duties so I was extremely grateful.
After seeing the radiation specialist my radiation was stopped (whilst I am glad that occurred I was a little frustrated that I would have to make up any missed radiation sessions at the end so it was taking me closer to Christmas before I would finish). I was also given a course of prednisolone (steroid) to see if we could calm the lungs down a little to restart radiation. Some inhaled therapy and a little more physio to see if we could open up the lungs. We also hoped that the radiation hadn’t damaged my lung at all. With all the precautionary measures they had used this was unlikely but my symptoms never the less couldn’t guarantee it hadn’t.
After a week of steroids, inhaled therapy, physio and some down time for me and to let my skin rest I was ready to start up again. Those weeks were not the walk in the park I first thought they would be. Every day I went in and every day I dreaded the next only because I knew it would make my skin burn all over again. I would often sit and think to myself stop feeling sorry for yourself (imagine being a man and having to have treatment in your groin area, that would far out way anything I am feeling). Whilst I managed the 6 weeks in total by the end of the treatment my skin was ready to up and leave me! It had definitely had enough!! Surprisingly though my skin did not take too long to heal and being able to want to wear clothes again was definitely a good thing. I can definitely say that I take my hat off to anyone that has to go through radiation and especially those who have radiation and chemotherapy. The strength and courage they would have to muster up is truly inspiring!. I’m left with a very tanned breast to the point you can barely see the nipple and the other is lily white but in the scheme of everything it is nothing but cosmetic, so many others are left with so many more permanent reminders both physically and mentally. Am surely grateful.
Given the weeks I had just endured I was ready to relax a little and start getting into the Christmas Spirit. Yet it seemed the universe had other plans for me……………………………………………..