Radiation Therapy, day 1
So, perhaps you've heard by now, I've started a radiation therapy for a breast cancer and if you hadn't, I bet THAT headline got your attention? I know, I know, it sounds really scary. usually when you hear these words, there's an issue. And if you know me, personally, I have one issue, aside from not being quite dryer cycle sane, that is, what I believe is a combination of poisons/toxins in the food chain and perimenopause, but it wasn't ever actually cancer.
In this case, I got really lucky. They say the key to killing breast cancer is catching it early and the best prevention comes from doing monthly breast exams, if you know any young girls, teach them to do this with their menses. I learned how to do it at a relatively young age, and as a result, just do so, as a matter of rote.
In this case, it wouldn't have mattered, this cancer was so teeny so as to be absolutely impossibly imperceptible to the naked eye, never mind to the touch. I was participating in a National Breast Cancer study because my mom is a BC survivor, and as a result they are being aggressive with data collection. Well, they caught the thing it was no bigger than a dot of ink on the scans. But the dot, triggered a desire to do a biopsy. If I'd known they were going to fire the needle into my breast from the business end of a colt .45, I'd have wanted to be asleep, but, I digress. When I say they got it all out with the biopsy, I mean exactly that. Completely, totally. It was so small, it wasn't even big enough to begin making me ill yet.
As a to-be-certain-we-didn't-miss-anything, measure, we did a lumpectomy, that's a fancy name for a "partial mastectomy. Essentially, they removed a walnut size chunk of flesh from the area around the now non-existant cancer. To Dr. Metarissian's credit, he did a beautiful job, the scar is not perceptable unless you actually lift my boob and if you do THAT without my permission, I will punch you. The surgery was done on the bigger boob, so my breasts are now beneficially enough, the same size. Thank you Dr. M!
The lumpectomy proved the 100% removal of said cancer, and because it was the "aggressive" sort of cancer, we are doing CYA targeted radiation therapy as a precaution, because it, although teeny tiny and now, non existant, was of the, let me emphasise this, "most aggressive sort of cancer".
I had a bit of a set-to with the radiation specialist, one, Dr. Lambert. I don't believe they've ever had a 100% removed on the biopsy result before. The data for the BC study is invaluable, so I'm grateful for whatever they learn. Needless to say, I didn't see the value of a month's long radiation therapy for a non-existant cancer.
Especially being the autistic meat suit that I am, I just didn't want to put myself through that. She told us about a targeted radiation therapy that is used regularly for less aggressive cancers, it is less invasive in that it doesn't include the lymph system and doesn't run a risk of lung damage. (I swim, I need my lungs.) It also ran for five treatments rather than 21. She said it wasn't standard protocol, but she was willing to present the case to the Oncology board to see if we could only do the short-term treatment. (If they'd said no, I would have settled for the increased frequency, advanced tech, mammograms I already know are coming).
So, I am getting five radiation therapies.
This is the tale of the first therapy; the next four are scheduled for the next two Monday and Wednesdays. Follow me on Twitter, if you don't already, and you can participate in helping me choose the music for my therapies.
So I didn't really know what to expect, and I get a little thick when I am anxious, so, at the very least I am entertaining.
The staff at the superhospital are exceptional. I know that they went to a great deal of trouble to hire the best and the brightest because my step-daughter extraordinaire is in cardiac surgery there and all the staff were impressed when they learned where she works.
I went into the radiation therapy room, it's all very high tech, top of the line, looks like something out of a Star Trek film. I was totally freaked out of course, not knowing what I was going to feel, and so, it was anxiety inducing. The whole experience is designed to relax the patient, there were beautiful trees in blossom on the ceiling and soft relaxing music was playing. I was going to be left alone in the room for the treatment, and my technicians all hid behind the lead-lined walls. We were in contact by loud speaker. I asked if I could bring my own music, they asked what I like; they had Spotify. My immediate go-to album is The Moody Blues' In Search of the Lost Chord. It has an uncanny ability to bring me right down to a calm relaxed state. I have been using it to soothe myself out of meltdown since I was a teenager.
So, they lay me on the table covered me with blankets and put on the album.
From there on, it was pretty simple, I didn't feel anything, and watching the machines turn around me and feeling the table move underneath me was, legit, no big thing. In fact, being the Sci-Fi and medical equipment geek that I am, It was really cool, in all its anxiety induction.
Needless to say, the treatment was a piece of cake.
I got home later that day, and although I expected a great deal of anxiety beforehand, after a few hours, I did experience a bit of pain, but it never went above a four and subsided relatively quickly.
So, the next treatment is on Monday, and if you follow @Pepperfire on twitter, you can help me decide what calming, fulfilling music I should listen to. Nominations are being taken now! Feel welcome to tweet me your best suggestions.