Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Breast Cancer Journey ~ 1st and Goal

My 20 day radiation schedule has gone quickly, only 2 marbles left in the out box! Monday was the last day of traditional radiation which targeted the whole breast. The last four days target the area of the original tumor and incision, it's called a "boost" and is site specific.

My "A" team of fellow travellers at the cancer center have all been a part of the journey and we sometimes have a chance to visit while awaiting sessions. On Friday we got off on a tangent talking about the ailments du jour. Suddenly everyone got really quiet and then we burst out laughing, aghast at the idea we were becoming our mothers. One said her grandmother used to call it "organ recitals" and they were banned from family gatherings and dinner conversation. A conciousness raising moment for sure.


Spirit Horse

As for the decorative sunburn and random rash I was blessed (too bad there's not a font for sarcasm) with just the rash. It looks like someone placed a pancake over my breast as protective gear and then dusted the surrounding treatment area with buckshot. I don't have kids but I'll bet it's akin to diaper rash and it itches like poison oak. I quickly found a solution to that little inconvenience: Mama Meryl's Healing Salve. It's made here in Sonoma County and available at Sebastopol Hardware. We've been using it for years for everything from cuts to scratches and burns to stings. One of the main ingredients is calendula which is in a number of recommended potions in the "dealing with it primer" for radiation patients so you may be able to find something akin to it closer to home.

Not feeling the predicted fatigue or I've just been too busy with life to notice it. The serendipitous timing of our four craft fairs following each week of the radiation sessions is perhaps no coincidence, but a handy coping tool nonetheless. I will say that during the last week or so, when 4pm roles around the barcalounger, a tall glass of water and a couple of chapters of an NCIS marathon are a pleasant diversion.

Once I graduate on Friday I'm going to take December off and give my body a rest. The next step in this journey will be five years on an estrogen inhibitor called Anastrozole which of course has a host of potentially nasty side effects.

I've always be one to question authority so I'm doing some homework. First I'm looking into an alternative to ingesting medication orally by talking with a compounding pharmacist who can use my prescription to make a topical cream. We also have local MD who believes in incorporating alternative therapies into her practice and some of those may mitigate potential side effects of the medication. Her specialties cover my gambit of concerns: women's health, oncology and hepatology. Both are willing to work with my oncologist at Kaiser so once I have more information I'll contact him to discuss possibilities.

Apologies for the football analogy in my title today, but our beloved SF 49ers have come back to life after what seems like decades. It just goes to show you should never give up hope ~ ever!