Well it has been a while and much has happened. I finished my final radiation treatment last friday. Yay! Considering I went in every weekday for the last 5 weeks I was very ready for it to be over.
Radiation was stupid and I didn’t like it. It surprised me how emotionally difficult it was. Chemo, while no fun, is administered in a bright windowed room full of smiling nurses and mostly upbeat patients to commiserate with, there was TV and cookies there. Radiation is in a cold room where you lie on a weird table, half naked, with a wet towel on your chest. The nurses/ technicians are still super sweet but after telling you how helpful this treatment will be they flee behind a lead filled wall to administer the dose. There you lie, alone, in an uncomfortable position, bad radio station on, wet towel getting colder while this machine opens its screwdriver looking teeth so the radiation only goes where they want it to. It whirrs while it rotates into position and buzzes while those “teeth” open and shift. The first few treatments I counted the buzzes (14) but after a week or so the anxiety waned slightly and I could let my mind float to other thoughts. The physical effects are no treat either. Any sci-fi makeup artist worth their salt should examine the effect radiation has on tender and scarred skin. I will spare you photos but know that it looks super yuck and hurts and stings and itches. It has a delayed effect so I will be battling my skin for the next 2 weeks or so, then the healing cycle can start. Whew, I can not wait for that. I also can’t wait to wear normal clothes again. All I can really wear now is “wife beater” tank tops and all of them have a big grease stain on the left side from the constant layer of comforting Aquafore on the tender skin.
Next step starts thursday. I will begin my 5 years of Tamoxifen. It prevents estrogen from being received by the cells of my body. The type of cancer I have loves to eat estrogen and without it the cancer starves. Yay! The bad side is that my body will have all those fun and exciting hormones floating around with nowhere to go. Boo!
Speaking of feeling like and emotional wreck, well, I already do. Now that all the big dramatic milestone treatment stuff has passed I am finally starting to allow myself to feel stuff. It sucks. I hate it. In the last year and a half I up and left a city I lived in for 13 years, started down a new career path, started a business with my boyfriend, got cancer, lost a body part, lost my hair, and watched the business fold. Any one of those things would be tough but all together, I’m not coping well. For the last month or so I have been trying to deny or squish all of the anxiety and depression that these events bring up. I push them away and try to carry on. It is easy to put them aside at work because the lil uns outshine them brilliantly but unfortunately I am more than a caregiver/teacher. I need to find a way to care for myself and that prospect exhausts me. I am overwhelmed by my lack of money and transportation. I feel defeated. Don’t worry though, I know I’m not, I just feel that way right now. I’m working with the Breast Cancer Resource Center and The Livestrong Foundation to get financial and emotional counseling. My work as always, is being helpful and supportive. I just want to be able to think a little farther in the future than 5 minutes from now. I can still take one thing at a time but I need to look to the future and honestly, that has never been my strong suit.