Sunday, June 2, 2013

Rad Grad

Last Thursday, I officially completed radiation - all 33 rounds of it.

I was so excited Wednesday night, I could barely sleep.  As I had said in an earlier post, I was more afraid of radiation than I was of chemotherapy or surgery.  But I was able to let go of my fear and be thankful for yet another weapon to insure that I live to be an old lady.

For the most part, the experience was far from terrible.  I had a wonderful radiation oncologist who answered my questions with enthusiasm and care.  I also had an incredibly sweet, funny, and professional radiation therapy team who were just as at ease joking with me as they were wiping my tears on both the first and last days of treatment.  And I also made friends with such loving and authentic people waiting each day for treatments or for the treatment of their loved ones - and they have each been in my prayers ever since.  And on top of all of that, my skin reactions were not nearly as horrible as they could have been.  I had one and a half weeks of extreme pain, tightness, and itching - but almost as soon as it arrived, it was gone.  Today, only three days after my last boost and a week and a half since my last full treatment, I am feeling pretty good.  The red skin is turning brown and in parts peeling as if I spent a long weekend sunbathing with one breast exposed like some Amazonian princess.  The hardest part about radiation is the having to think about cancer in an intense way every day for six and a half weeks.  

I stayed up late the night before my last session making stickers for my treatment team.  I created this little radiation monster, a special Frida "hope" sticker, and one with the sloth monster.  I also stopped off and got gourmet candy bars at Whole Foods for everyone.  I wanted to make thank you cards too but didn't have time.  So instead, I told everyone how much they meant to me, cried a ton, and got lots of hugs.  They gave me a certificate and a little bouquet of hershey kisses.  The radiation therapists took these lovely pictures so you could get a better understanding of how I spent these last six and a half weeks.  

This last picture is my view of the machine... which is why I wanted to give them a special sticker.  They were very excited about adding it to the collection - and I was happy thinking that perhaps my sticker would distract future women during their treatments.

Over the last six and a half weeks, I have driven a total of 1188 miles, paid $64 worth of tips to the valet parking attendants, used 5 tubes of miaderm (at $33 each), 2 tubes of calendula ($12 each) 3 bottles of aloe gel ($10 each), 2 bottles of rosewater ($10 each), 1 bottle of aloe juice ($10), 2 tubes of liquid lanolin ($7 each), used 2 cooling aloe pads ($25 each), ruined 6 forever 21 tank tops, and another 6 hanes mens tank tops and lost one glass water bottle ($14)... for a grand total of $439(not including gasoline).  Cancer is extremely expensive.  The costs for treatment  goes way beyond insurance co-payments and premiums.  I don't mean to complain - I feel extremely lucky that I was able to have such excellent care and found ways to afford all of those things that made my radiation experience doable.  I just thought that it was important to share that aside from the physical and emotional hardships that is cancer - there are also enormous financial costs as well.  I have also been lucky that I have been able to be off work this entire time.  I will return to work in July.  Am I physically or emotionally ready to return to work?  No... but it is what I will have to do anyway.

  I have finished the big parts of my treatment.  Since September, I have fought cancer with 6 rounds of chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, and 33 rounds of radiation.  Tonight I will begin tamoxifen - which I will take daily for the next ten years of my life.  I will continue to have my herceptin injections until September and will have more surgery in December.  It has been quite an adventure- one that I wouldn't wish upon anyone.  And now I have one month to recover and return to work.  Yikes.

Here is my final installment of the radiation tapes.  The songs on the Pandora alternative 80's station were beginning to get pretty repetitive- so I am glad that I finished up when I did.  I think I chose this particular station because it reminded me of being young and healthy - when I danced until 3 am, wore lots of black clothing and eyeliner, and my main worry was how cool I looked.




  1. You are one super hero warrior woman!!! xo

  2. I remember those late nights dancing until 3am. Sorry to hear about your cancer. Hang in there!

  3. How nice to hear from you Russell! Hope you are doing well. And thanks for reading.

  4. Thanks for responding, yes I am doing well. I think I have finally read all your posts on this blog and all I can say is wow! I am in awe by your strength and determination to get through all this. You are a real class act! I have the utmost respect for you, your family, your mom and dad, your sister, and your brother. Take care and keep posting please.