12/20/13 - Radiation Consultation

Yesterday I had my radiation consultation. Man-o-man the traffic coming home was awful. It took us two hours to get home. There was a terrible accident on the 15 freeway - wasn't even on our side. A tour bus overturned in the NB lanes. Thirty people were injured. It was determined that the driver was going too fast - 65 in rainy conditions. Those tour bus drivers are notorious for speeding. I can only imagine how terrified those people must have been.

On to radiation news...... I have a simulation scheduled for January 10th. During that time, they will take x-rays of my body and do careful planning to position me correctly while being radiated. Once the planning is complete, they will give me permanent tattoos - small dots - for accurate positioning. I went ahead and made the appointment, but I'm still deciding whether I want to go ahead with this. If I decide to do it, I will have to go five days a week for six weeks. They will do regular radiation for five weeks and then six boosts at the end. I know this is the standard treatment when you have a lumpectomy, but I'm really nervous about radiation. There can be so many long term side effects. One side effect is Lymphedema which is a chronic disease that causes swelling in the arm or hand. My risk is lessened due to the fact I elected not to have the sentinel node biopsy. You can also develop heart complications but I'm told with the advancement in radiology that side effect is rare. It's possible to develop a cough from your lung being exposed. That could be temporary or permanent. There is also a very small risk of developing a secondary cancer called Angiosarcoma. There are many more possible side effects but it doesn't mean I would develop any of them. Some people go through radiation with little to no problems other than fatigue. If I don't do it, the radiology oncologist said I can have up to a 40% chance of the cancer coming back - my surgeon said 50%. I really don't want a re-occurrence.  Of course there is still a possibility it can come back even if I have radiation. Once radiated your only option if you have a re-occurrence is mastectomy. Also, once you have radiated skin, you're option for reconstruction isn't very good. However, I'm not a candidate for typical expander reconstruction due to my problems with wound healing. These are really tough choices. I'm told that lumpectomy without radiation is almost unheard of. I see my medical oncologist today, so I will get his opinion.

Monday I have my Herceptin infusion and then it's time for a little vacation from cancer treatment. I'm excited to be cancer free now that my tumors are gone. I'm still feeling pretty sore from the lumpectomy and I've developed a few lumps on my side - slightly below and about an inch away from my incision. My surgeon will take a look at them today. My rash is much better and I didn't have to take the oral steroids. My appetite has returned with a vengeance. They weighed me yesterday and I was shocked to see I've gained 13 pounds. Good grief! Now that I've got my taste buds back, food tastes soooo good. I will get a handle on that after the holidays.

My sense of humor is slowly returning - I think it went on a mini vacation during chemo. :) But now that it's back, I have what I think is a funny story to tell. Bud and I have been going to the same Mexican restaurant for years. We typically go every week and order the same thing. It's come to the point where they already know what we want when we sit down. So for years I've had long hair. When I got it cut before chemo the waitress made a comment on how she liked the short hair. Then I got my long wig which looks a lot like my own hair, when I would blow dry it straight. The next time we were in, she was looking at me kind of funny but didn't say anything. The following week I had my short wig on which is a different color from my real hair. She commented on how she liked my hair and she said she hardly recognized me - she looked even more confused. At that point I thought I would have some fun and wear my long wig the following week. She didn't say a word about my hair, but I could tell she was staring at me when she thought I wasn't looking. I know they are very curious. Is it awful I'm having so much fun with this? No one really knows I'm in cancer treatment other than my family, a few neighbors and a few friends. Any suggestions what I should do next time? I'm almost tempted to buy a red wig (evil grin).

Hope you all have a great weekend. I'll update next time I have new info.




  1. Oh my gosh that is too funny! You should totally get a red wig to freak them out! Lol.

  2. Oh my gosh that is too funny! You should totally get a red wig and freak them out! Or maybe a rainbow afro wig or something else totally off the wall LOL!

  3. Hi Melissa,

    I think they caught on to my shenanigans. I think they lost interest. I stopped wearing wigs and just wear my hat. I'll have to find a new way to have some fun.