New Anxiety

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I had figured out how to handle the chemo treatments by this time. Sure, near the end is when we all have it figured out!

I knew when I would get sick and I planned for it. I was able to function pretty well up to this point. Now that I had my last treatment, my last bone boost shot, the doctor felt I needed to recuperate for a while before I started radiation. He had this planned to begin in a month. I looked forward to this time. It would have been July. I thought I was in the clear for at least this short time.

But no … radiation needs as much planning and preparation as chemo treatments did. I will have to visit the radiology center several times before I would begin this part of treatment. Always the first consultation visit, with more probing, feeling my breast tissue (seemed everyone had their hands on my breast!), blood work, overall checkups to see how I was handling the last chemo, and if I was prepared for radiation.

Because chemo suppresses your immune system, I was always a high risk for infection. I thought every paper cut or bruise was the beginning of me dying! They all wanted me to be as strong as possible for this so I was checked and rechecked constantly.

I had to have body molds made, photos taken of me and my breasts for the charts. I have been tattooed several times (eight actually), but the doctors need their art as well. So small dots were tattooed on my chest around the area of the tumor and lymph nodes to help guide the giant machine that would deliver radiation. The mold was designed to hold me in the exact position every time; it had to be exact. The spot to be radiated was very close to my heart. I had been reminded of this many, many times.

That month flew by. And although I was stronger, I was also scared all over again. Radiation poses as many risks as chemo. I was informed of the chances of developing other cancers, the side effects that I would experience…some the same as chemo like fatigue and hair loss. Like I had any more to lose! And the constant consideration of my heart.

I mentioned before that chemo is done in a room surround by lots of people and activities. Radiation is not!
I was placed on a table, held in position by this mold made especially for me. A giant machine would hover over me, lights would dim,then the staff would politely excuse themselves and close this massive lead door. I was alone again. The machine would hum and for about a minute and a half, I was dosed with large amounts of radiation. It didn’t take long … seconds really. Felt like hours. Completely alone, I could recite three prayers in the time it took to deliver the treatment. Not sure what I should or would be feeling but the anxiety levels really climbed during this time. Chemo was bad enough, but I had to do this thirty times. Thirty times. Every day, except Saturdays and Sundays. Twenty-nine more to go.

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