Breast Cancer Page Two

With a new phase of treatment beginning I thought maybe another page was in order.

I once again had to meet with the Radiologist, his resident and an intern. They basically checked me over then proceeded to give me the run down on what would be happening to me in the weeks ahead. Due to the number of lymph nodes that were cancerous I will be receiving six and a half weeks of radiation. There will be four areas covered. One up to get the nodes near my neck, another near the right breast, the third at the left breast and the fourth from the back toward my left side. Course they also ran down all the side effects that may or may not occur. Once the doctor was all done he asked what I thought. I told him I would've rather not heard about the side effects, but other than that I didn't feel I was going to refuse treatment. I told him I'd meet any side effects when and if they came along, but until then I wanted to get on with it. I then was scheduled and went in for a CT scan and what they call Simulation. It was an over three hour procedure. First they lay you in a mixture that hardens around your body, making a mold for you to basically lay in for each treatment. The scan is taken, your body is marked. I had the choice of just getting marked with a pen or tattoo, I chose tattooing. So at age 58 years, I got me three tattoo's!!

I have since had my first week of treatments and all seems to be still going well. After each treatment I put on very heavy lotion, similar to what I've heard is called udder balm. I began using it immediately as didn't care to wait until my skin started drying. For those interested in getting and keeping their skin really soft the name of the product is Thera Care.

Six and a half weeks later I finished radiation. The first six weeks the radiation was concentrated on four sites. Certain days were used to do certain checks. Monday was weigh in day. This I felt totally unfair as I always eat more on weekends. Normally they watch for weight loss and as usual being different I actually  gained again. Tuesday x-rays were taken so make sure treatment was going to the right areas and no damage was being done. Thursday I saw the Radiologist.

For the first couple of weeks we had grandchildren staying with us so the time went fast even though we had a 140 mile round trip. Once school began and we were just the two of us we began to just veg out after we got home. I decided I was up to doing some research so we came up with a game plan. Monday, Tuesday and Thursdays we would do genealogical research at the Wisconsin State Historical Library. We would pack a lunch on Monday and Tuesday then Thursday we would choose a restaurant that served some really different food than we normally ate and eat there. I had many things I've never had before and really loved them. Couscous, hummus, as well as foods I've forgotten or never could pronounce the names of. State Street in Madison between the Historical Society and the Capitol are filled with all types of restaurants and we didn't even make it up one side of the street.

My skin stayed good until the fifth week. At that point the redness in some areas became sore, but not unbearable. One day before the end of the four areas of radiation my skin as the Techs said began to break down. In other words, open sores were forming. Since that stage of the treatment was over, I only healing had to go. The last half week concentrated on the area of where the tumor was. That too didn't start to break down until the last day. I maintained my ointment on those areas and healing occurred.

I couldn't believe how fast that time went. I am writing this as a done deal. The research went very well, so well in fact that I after thirty-five plus years of working on a line got a break that was not to be believed!! I found that I was a direct descendant from a King of England. Well, I was shocked to say the least. So shocked that I mentioned it to the radiation techs and they in their delightful way proceeded to give me the royal treatment. It was your highness this, your highness that, with curtsies all over the place. I got them back though, on my last day Jerry and I brought a camera in so I could get a picture of all my new-found friends. True to form they offered to curtsy then much to their surprise and amazement I brought out a tiara, slapped it on my head and Jerry took a picture of us together. I'll bet they will never forget "Princess Mickie".

Some of the  radiation techs that took great care of me. I ended my treatment like a Princess!!!

So it is done, all the chemotherapy and all the radiation is ended. I saw my Oncologist and he has put me on Tomoxifen. We did discuss all the possible side effects and I feel I am a good candidate for the drug. I now wait until the time that he can pronounce me a survivor. Five years isn't too far away. Until then I continue to play and have a ball.

My diagnosis and treatment was almost exactly a year from beginning to end. I began in October of 1998 and ended in October of 1999. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I doubt that I will ever forget that.

A reminder to all you ladies who might be reading this...go get yearly check-ups. Any lumps or bumps, have them checked out until you are very sure what they are.

Five Year Update

Ok, enough time has gone on that it's more than time for an update. It was five years October 2003. I am still cancer free and now considered a five year survivor. Somewhere up above I said I could hardly wait until I was considered a survivor, I have since found out that from the day my cancer was removed I was classed as a survivor. The years since my treatment have been normal with a few side effects. My legs ached for over two years, especially when I did a lot of walking. After the second year we went to prescription drugs which didn't do much to relieve the pain. One doctor suggested I simply continue with Advil which worked and was less costly which I did. I began to watch when I did things that I knew would make my legs hurt and made sure I took some Advil at bedtime. I don't know when the pains went away, I just noticed that one day they weren't there so the doctors were right, it was a side effect. I also gained mucho weight and of course no help from the doctor, as he said it doesn't look good for their cancer patients to lose weight. He finally gave the go ahead but with restrictions, no fad diets, no pills, etc. He felt I could do it simply by watching what I eat. Well I am, for me it's a see food diet and so far I am eating all that I see.

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