Radiation In Use

Cancer free...again! I realize I left some of you hanging by not posting this news sooner. The second surgery went well. It was painful for about a week, as all surgeries are, but it was quickly masked by the residual sensations from my previous one. Or, "the big one" as I have come to call it.  

The surgery was a particularly difficult one for me. I knew they had to go in and get the leftover marker, but I wasn't really certain as to why. I wasn't excited in the way that I was for the big one. This was legitimately just a hurdle, a step in the wrong direction. The morning was somber for all in attendance; me, Chris, Heather, Dad, and Chintz. None of us wanted to be there and the poor resident was bombarded with questions as he explained what the surgery would entail. As I walked out of the room towards the OR, I held back tears of anger, fear, doubt. The last face I saw was my dad. He had tears in eyes and so did I. We all knew this was bullshit. We were all, and still are, vulnerable to what needs to be done.  

It went as expected and thankfully only one lymph node, with marker!, was removed. Chris and I met with Dr. Chagpar for my post-op appointment a week later. She came into the room and immediately apologized - for the surgery, for the protocol, for the controversy around these markers, and mostly for the duress under which I suffered. Chris used this word, "duress", as he spoke to Dr. Chagpar immediately after the surgery. It resonated with her and opened up an honest conversation between us. She explained that they've only started leaving markers in lymph nodes within the last five years. Most of the time it is retrieved during the big one and all is well. The other 9% or so are like me, shit outta luck and back under the knife. Her candor in expressing her frustration was entirely appreciated and I finally understood what it all meant. I am all good with everything. Cancer, ya know?  

Today marked my 18th (out of 25) radiation treatment - next Friday being my last. Radiation sucks while being a breeze at the same time. My radiation oncologist at Smilow referred me to a doctor just down the road from my house in West Hartford. It would be a full-time job to drive 45 minutes to Smilow every day for a 30 minute to hour long appointment. His name is Dr. Rutter and he is awesome. He's younger than I am (oof) and tells it like it is. Best of all, he trained for two years at Smilow and knows my doctors and the type of care I've been receiving. I go everyday, Monday through Friday and see him on Thursdays. Radiation can cause fatigue, sometimes quite intensely. He said I may not notice it that much after going through chemo and having two young children at home. He is most of all right, but it has begun to hit me in the last week. I feel drained, usually at night, almost like I'm coming down with something. It also happens to be my favorite week of the year...SHARK WEEK. So the 1am bedtime is not helping. If you didn't already know, sharks are my favorite. Sharks, John Denver, crime (hearing, seeing, reading, investigating, not committing), those are my jam. Always have been, always will be. Anywho... 

Overall, I am doing quite well. Aside from lifting anything heavy, life is pretty much normal. Well, normal with a side of daily radiation...and lots of topical steroids...and some fatigue...and, hm. So, I am a bit fatigued from radiation and my skin is a pinkish-red. The incision under the right arm - that played a major role in both surgeries - is directly in the line of fire, so that one burns a bit. The sensations from the big one are still pretty intense. I continue to be swollen and completely numb in the front torso area. When I stand up after lying down, the feeling overwhelms me a bit and I get smacked for a few seconds. Things are starting to thaw from numbness and that can be pretty painful. Pings and pangs here and there and some general pulling on the giant incision definitely make me take notice. The other day I thought there was a thorn in my shirt, but after careful examination I realized it was Stella gettin' her groove back around my belly button. It lasted for a couple of hours and then subsided.  

A couple of random observations, if I may. After shaving my head, being bald, and now with hair not even an inch long, I am shocked at how heavy it is. I step out of the shower and it feels as though I have a mop on my head. This is so unexpected for me and perhaps one of those things you wouldn't understand, unless. I take a towel to it and next thing you know I'm looking in the mirror at Guy Fieri. Yikes. It's a fun little twist to the journey, I suppose. The other thing that I found pretty hilarious is due to the numb chest and tummy. I often walk out of the bathroom with my shirt, sweater, and whatever else I may be wearing at the time, tucked completely into my pants, and maybe further. We are talking, military-corners-tucked. I'm getting better at taking a look when I leave the bathroom, but it's definitely not enough.  Okay, I have rambled on. Thank you guys for sticking around. Much love. xx b