GUEST CANCER JAM OF THE DAY: (the other decades were jealous, what could I do?)
Well, I’m on day 5 of the radiation train. I’m not really sure where the train is going, perhaps Chernobyl or Three Mile Island, where I hear it’s lovely this time of year. On the bright side, I am enjoying all the benefits of the sun without having to sit outside at all. Thank goodness! Too much sun can give you cancer.
Seriously, I haven’t noticed any side effects yet, but I know that I’m a mere babe in the radiation woods. They tell me that by the end of the second week I may start to see some pink skin and experience some fatigue. I can hardly wait! It’s like being a kid and having to eat all the cereal in the box before you get the toy.
caved in elected to do radiation therapy..I am doing my best to protect my skin and keep the fallout to a minimum. I’ve even pulled out my lucky mastectomy troll dolls and built them an altar upon which I pray to the Goddess of good boobs nightly:)
Actually, I found another good book written by a female naturopathic doctor who has been through breast cancer herself. It’s called “A Survivor’s Guide To Kicking Cancer’s Ass” by Dena Mendes. I haven’t finished it yet, but I’m using one of her tips for preventing skin damage from radiation. I mix Arnica gel, Traumeel gel, and Bach’s Rescue Remedy cream in equal amounts in an old cold cream jar and apply liberally 2 times per day. On top of that, I use Palmer’s Cocoa Butter for extra moisturizing. It’s too soon to tell how well it will work, but I’ll let you know. When the nurse says, “Now don’t use any creams unless we give them to you”, I just smile and nod.
I am also currently in the process of studying the effects of taking antioxidants during radiation. In general, I don’t think they are a great idea because the body needs some oxidative stress to perform certain functions. For example, did you know that exercise creates free radicals which are essential to improving muscle function and performance? No oxidative stress = no gain. However, since radiation is such an overwhelming, unnatural assault on the body, I may decide to take something to offset the nuclear bomb being detonated in my chest daily. I am already taking Vitamin E, Selenium and Quercetin. It’s the stronger antioxidant guys like N-Acetyl Cysteine I’m still researching. I want maximum protection without treatment compromise.
As for the pre-radiation/post-radiation tissue expander debate, I opted not to go ahead with expander insertion after my consult with Monsieur Monet, the third breast reconstruction artiste I visited. I actually liked him the best. He made a lot of sense and he spoke with confidence about his recommendations. He said that if Dr. Rad would not allow the expanders to be inflated at all during radiation, there was no point in rushing to get them in. I would just be delaying treatment and opening myself up to an infection for no good reason. Kind of made me wonder what the hell Renoir was thinking when he suggested the surgery in the first place. Maybe he had his eye on a new Mercedes.
So that’s where I am. My skin is getting a little more sensitive after each treatment, the way it feels when you’ve come in from a long day at the beach and just know that the burn will show up in the morning. And oddly, I’ve been missing my son and feeling a little sad about him since I started radiation. I can’t imagine how the treatment could possibly affect my mood, but I guess anything’s possible.
In a way, the whole cancer debacle has been a huge distraction. I’ve had to focus so much on myself for the past year that I haven’t thought about James nearly as much as before I was diagnosed. So it’s weird to have these feelings resurface immediately after starting radiation. In Chinese medicine, grief dwells in the lungs. Maybe the daily bombardment of that region has stirred something up. I’m learning to pay attention to those things that I would have once dismissed as unscientific voodoo. Sometimes the universe speaks volumes if you listen with an open mind.