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post-chemo, pre-radiation

October 1, 2018

Today, I am six weeks post-chemo. I thought I’d be starting radiation today, but I won’t start until Wednesday. I had my scan to get set up for radiation almost two weeks ago. They told me it would take 10 days to 2 weeks to get everything ready, but when I hadn’t heard anything this morning on day 13, I started harassing them.

Thankfully, my plan was ready by the time I got someone on the phone around noon. It’s not like I just can’t wait to start radiation, but it was really hard coming back from vacation Saturday and not knowing what was going on. I’ve had the month of October and part of November just kind of blocked off, but I like to have a plan. I also know that the sooner I start, the sooner I’m done. And I want to be done.

Back to the post-chemo stuff, the hair on my head is making a significant comeback. I cut it about every week or so just to keep it all coming in the same length, but it’s noticeable from a distance. My eyelashes and eyebrows, on the other hand, have almost completely left the scene. It was hard being at the beach last week where I couldn’t keep the eye liner and brow penciling on, and I just had to deal with my bare cancer face.

Dear Gulf of Mexico, you can wash my makeup off any time you want.

My body hair is coming back in tiny, wispy bits. We were joking that it’s like I’m in middle school again. I have to keep checking my armpits because I don’t want to be that kid that one day realizes they have a full armpit full of hair and didn’t even know it. (There’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s not my personal preference.)

I mentioned before that I haven’t had body odor throughout chemo either. It was a strange milestone when last week, for the first time in months, I noticed that I smelled a little. It doesn’t help that all my usual “take a shower” indicators are gone – dirty hair, smelly pits, body hair. I’m not sure if the bacteria that causes us to smell is finally coming back, or if, as my mom suggested, my sweat is becoming less toxic. Who knows?

My fingernails, which are usually really strong and smooth, continue to be weak and have flattened out and, if I didn’t keep them super short, would curve downward over the end of my finger. It’s hard to describe, but they’re just kind of weird right now.I look forward to getting my old nails back too.

I feel very “meh” about radiation. From what I hear, it’s nothing compared to chemo, but based on my restlessness yesterday, there must be some underlying anxiety.

I also have another CT scan coming up. Sometime late last week, I realized that it was within two weeks. (It had seemed so far off when I just thought about it being in October.) I could feel a little bit of anxiety rising just making that realization, so I’ve started asking people to pray specifically for that. Last October, I had a clean PET scan, and in February I had cancer again. Any attempts I make at elaborating on my anxiety just start me down rabbit holes of fear, so I’ll stop. I obviously want a clean scan, but I also want to be able to live the next couple weeks in peace and not be worrying.

I was thinking recently how hard it is for me to embrace my last clean scan. Why can’t I say “Until further notice, I don’t have cancer.” Instead I feel like, “The last scan was good, but we’ll see.” I consider myself a positive, optimistic person, so what gives? Logically, I’m in a very different situation than I was last fall. I’ve removed my misbehaving breast and done much more extensive and aggressive treatment. But even know that isn’t helping. I’m not living in a place of fear, but I do feel like my joy in my current situation isn’t what it could be. I’d appreciate any thoughts you may have.

Oh yeah. Details. Wednesday I will have what seems like a trial run for radiation. Thursday will be my first actual treatment. I’ll got Monday-Friday for at least 25 but possibly up to 32 treatments. I’ve been wearing 3 cross marks on my chest since my initial scan. They put a very thin tape over them, but after a day or so at the beach, I had to put some thicker tape over them to keep them in place. Needless to say, the tape is super ratty and itchy now, and I can’t wait to get some new stuff on.

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