Archive for December 10th, 2012

My first radiation was fairly uneventful, which I consider a very good thing. I’m praying the next 24 will be just as anti-climactic. But what I observed while at Dana-Farber made me happy. I saw a woman who (apologies for judging a book by its cover) appeared to not be very well off be given a small tube of lotion that I paid $25 for without blinking. You could tell by watching and a bit of eavesdropping that she was incredibly thankful. I don’t know, maybe her insurance paid for it, maybe someone else, who knows – but what I do know is that Dana-Farber makes sure you have what you need, whether you can afford it or not.

So what do I want for Christmas? Well, to be honest, my first wish is for it to be last February, turning 38, with long brown hair, 25 pounds lighter, feeling like I’m on top of the world and ignorant of most things cancer. But since I don’t have a magic wand or fairy Godmother, that would be a waste of a wish. And I hate wasting something as special as a wish. This is what I want for Christmas:

I honestly don’t want anything more than this for Christmas. So if you insist on getting me something, please have it be a card saying you made a donation to support something like this – or wherever you want to help those who really need it. And if there isn’t something specific you want to contribute to, fundraising continues for the 2012 Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk until December 31, so even if you already sponsored me, you’re welcome to do so again (I promise this will be the last time I solicit support for the 2012 walk… 😉 ) or visit my brand new Jimmy Fund donation page here. Seriously, supporting the place that has made this horrid year a little bit easier is my only Christmas wish. I can’t help thinking the same thing I thought last year when I was making donations for presents in honor of Mirany (and you can donate in her honor here) – what could we possibly need more than our health?

Read Full Post »

For about two weeks life was almost normal – no treatments (just visits to the hospital), work five days a week, some of the chemo side effects fading and my hair (slowly) growing back. I felt myself slipping back into the good old denial and fooling myself that cancer doesn’t exist in my life. But starting tomorrow, it’s a new reality: radiation.

Just like with the chemo, it’s been a bit of a crash course in radiation. I admit I haven’t exactly been paying as much attention as perhaps I should have (part of the denial thing), but now I’m cramming. The folks in Radiation Oncology at Dana-Farber are – like everyone I’ve encountered at Dana-Farber and Brigham and Women’s – great. They talk and walk you through it all so even those of us who aren’t too medically inclined have a clue what’s happening. I had the mapping session where they figured out the treatment field (on me) and gave me six tiny tattoos to help them correctly position me at each appointment. Then on Friday I had the dry run, where they took x-rays to make sure they got the mapping right, and walked me through what will happen for each of my next 25 visits.

Radiation Therapy (From the Breast Radiation Guidelines sheet from Dana-Farber): Radiation therapy is a painless treatment, similar to an x-ray. It uses high-energy x-rays to damage the DNA of cancer cells so that they are unable to repair themselves. Radiation also affects normal, healthy cells. Unlike cancer cells, normal cells are able to recover from radiation damage.

So starting tomorrow, Monday-Friday for 25 days (except Christmas and New Year’s Day) I’ll end my work day by running over to Dana-Farber for radiation. Several friends have given me tips on getting through it, and I am hoping to sail through. Then reinflation, a few months of rest, surgery for the implants, nipples, more tattooing, and then…

Tamoxifen. You may have heard the news last week: the results of a big study were just revealed and it determined that 10 years of tamoxifen is better for life expectancy than five years. Of course. That’s just my luck – just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse! So frustrating…

But at the check-up with my oncologist Friday (well, substitute oncologist, as mine just had a baby – her first, yay!), she said that I shouldn’t worry too much about it right now. A lot happens in the medical field in five years, and by the time my five are up, who knows what the recommendation will be. With my luck it will be to take it forever, but whatever. We’ll see.

There is some good news. I get to have the port taken out of my arm soon, which will be wonderful. And the best news of all: I ran today. Well, that was preceded by some not great news. I asked the oncologist when the numbness and tingling in my feet, legs and fingers will stop and she said it could be six months, a year or even never (although that’s rare). I had been waiting for my feet at least to be normal before getting back to running, since I’m such a klutz anyway. But there’s no way I’m waiting that long – I can’t stand being this out of shape, and want my clothes to fit right again. So this morning I went for my first run in practically forever.

I actually cried (happy tears of course) as I walked into the cool air in my running gear. It felt so good to get back out there! Of course, that only lasted a short time. It was like I’ve never run before. I was only doing 1:1 intervals and I was hurting by the time I hit a mile. I only did one more because I had a pain in my side and felt like I was going to throw up. (So pathetic how out of shape I am…) But I was proud I didn’t fall and two miles is better than none. It’s a start.

And tomorrow – uh, today, as I just realized it’s after midnight – is another start. Radiation. And it will be fine. I got through chemo just fine and I can get through this.

Read Full Post »