Sunday, December 7, 2008

My story - part 5 (radiation)

After the mastectomy I had about 6 weeks of healing time before they wanted me to start radiation. I was hoping that radiation was not necessary because the doctors told me that the pathology indicated "no residual cancer" in either the tissue or the lymph nodes . . . "a complete response to chemo". Excellent, I'm cancer free! The doctors were pleased with the result; however, they still felt that radiation was my best chance to avoid local recurrance. So, fine . . . they must know what they're talking about.

I started radiation in early September and had to go 5 times a week for about 6 weeks. The radiation itself wasn't that bad, it was the driving and the fatigue that was the worst, plus I was still trying to work during this process. It would have been helpful if the hospital was close to work, but of course it was 1.5 hours away! Something had to give, I ended up taking more time off from work to concentrate on my recovery. About 4 weeks into the treatment I started to develop a burn from the radiation and I was beginning to notice some capsular contracture around the tissue expander. I was told that this was very likely with implants and radiation but I was still hoping that it wouldn't happen to me. All we could do was plug on and hope it didn't get worse. My radiation visits ended on October 9th. By that time I had a burn from my armpit to the center of my chest which was quite tender and peeling. Yuck! But from what I've seen, my burn was mild compared to some! One good thing . . . hair still doesn't grow on the armpit on the side of radiation, so I only have to shave the left! There's always an up side to everything!!
Beam me up scotty!

After radiation ended I went back to my plastic surgeon. He still wanted to fill the tissue expanders so that my micro surgeon in Boston would have options for my reconstructive surgery. Because of the burn he decided to wait a few weeks before doing the first fill. When it came time for the fill it was one of the weirdest experiences so far. They put 100cc in each side, it was like insta-boob! I could really notice the capsular contracture then. The right side was tighter and higher than the left. But, I just kept my mind on the fact that it wasn't forever. These would be taken out at the time of reconstruction and all would be fixed! I had one more fill about 4 weeks later, 100cc in each again. One more step down . . . now just have to head back down to Boston to meet with the surgeon and see what she thinks about reconstruction options.

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