Today the physio declared me Radiation ready!
This statement may conjure up images of me glowing an eerie fluorescent green in the dark, but sadly it actually means something a whole lot less cool! My right arm is now mobile and flexible enough for me to be able to lift it above my head for at least 10 minutes in order for me to have radiation after the chemo is done.
It seems silly that this is such a big thing in my life after all it’s such a simple ask: to be able to hold your arm above your head while lying completely still for 10 minutes a day. No superior human strength required to perform that task! But considering that I have been having physio since the end of September and even that up until a month ago I could not get my arm above shoulder height, this for me is a feat on par with Chad Le Clos beating Michael Phelps!
Just after surgery when we got the good news that my cancer had not spread to the lymph nodes, I was positive that I would not need any radiation. Chemo was a possibility as it would seek out any floating renegade cancer cells which may be in the body undetected by the scans etc. Radiation however is given to a specific area targeting cancer cells in that specific area. In the case of breast cancer, these include the chest wall and lymph nodes under the arm. So in my case no detectable cancer cells equals no reason to radiate? RIGHT? WRONG! Like so much else about this disease….. things aren’t always as they appear!
Our visit to the Dent Doctor all those months ago cleared up some of those misconceptions rather quickly. 101 other tests are done on the tumor and the surrounding tissue removed at the time of the mastectomy to determine what kind of breast cancer it is (I was clueless – I had no idea there was more than one), what the cancer responded to, how quickly it was growing etc etc.
So when the Dent Doctor said I would need chemo AND radiation, I was totally devastated, it made no sense to me! He went on to explain that the tests not only picked up the 3 malignant tumors in the right breast but that there were also signs of Perineural invasion which made him 100% convinced that both treatments were necessary. Perineural invasion meant that the cancer cells had literally started invading the nerves in the breast and it was impossible to know where or how far these had spread through the network of nerves. Solution…..radiation to target the chest wall and the surrounding area to kill off any insurgents!
For me this means 3 weeks of daily radiation treatments after chemo ends and once the implants are done. For my right arm, this means more physio after radiation. My physio described radiation as the “gift that keeps on giving”. She told me to imagine how tight the skin feels after a dose of bad sunburn and then imagine that expanded to the surrounding tissue and muscle; then add in poor lymph drainage just for good measure. She says the effects of radiation treatment can be felt for up to two years!
But for now, I am radiation ready and it means ANOTHER milestone has been reached! Other than any help I may need with Lymphatic drainage, or any unexpected emergencies; I don’t need the physio until 2 weeks after radiation next year!
“Failure and struggles keep you humble, success and achievement keep you glowing, but only faith and determination keeps you going. So stay focused, and celebrate your efforts too, not just your outcomes.” Melchor Lim
“When we recall the past, we usually find that it is the simplest things – not the great occasions – that in retrospect give off the greatest glow of happiness.” Bob Hope
“At my age, the radiation will probably do me good.” Norman Wisdom
“It doesn’t make sense to call ourselves ugly, because we don’t really see outselves. We dont watch ourselves sleeping in bed, curled up silent with our chests rising and falling with our own rhythm. We don’t see ourselves reading a book, eyes fluttering and glowing. You don’t see yourself looking at someone with love and care in your heart. There’s no mirror in your way when your laughing and smiling and pure happiness is leaking out of you. You would know exactly how bright and beautiful you are if you saw yourself in the moments where you are truly your authentic self.” Unknown
“The darkness of the whole world cannot swallow the glowing of a candle.” Robert Altinger
“There are two kinds of light – the glow that illuminates, and the glare that obscures.” James Thurber