Thursday, April 25, 2013

Radiation--the countdown begins

I love knowing the exact number of radiation treatments I will have.  I have exactly 33 treatments scheduled.  This makes counting them down easy.  And, I know the exact date that I will be done--5/30/13.  With chemotherapy, I had a set number of treatments scheduled; however, at times, I would be in that infusion room every day due to having white blood counts too low for treatment.

So, I can tell you that as of the end of the day today, I will have completed 8/33 treatments.  Since I go every weekday, it seems like that magic number, "33", is getting here pretty quickly.

How am I feeling?
So far, most of the negative side effects of this radiation and chemo treatment regimen is from the chemo pill that I am taking every weekday.  First, the pill is a little tricky to take.  I have to take it every 12 hours, within 30 minutes after a meal and with a full glass of water.  The morning pill is pretty easy to take, because I have had breakfast.  We usually eat dinner early, so I have been eating some bedtime snacks so that I can take my pill on a somewhat full stomach.  Unfortunately, the pill has caused me all day nausea and tiredness last week, which can be difficult with 2 small kiddos.  But, I am feeling slightly better this week.  And, this process still seems easier because I get my weekends off--from the chemo pill and radiation.  Last weekend it was like a night and day difference from the weekday to weekend.  I felt significantly better on Saturday and Sunday since I didn't have to take that chemotherapy pill.

My skin is just beginning to get sensitive as well.  I am really lathering on the recommended creams though, because I am trying to preserve my skin's health as much as possible.

The chemo drug can negatively effect my blood counts, so I am having regular weekly blood draws to monitor that.   My oncologist, Dr. H., actually even started me on a reduced dose of this drug for the first couple of weeks to see how my body handles it.  So far, so good.

Lifting restrictions: Even though the lifting restrictions from my surgery are now "lifted", I have new lifting restrictions.  During radiation, and for some time afterwards, I am limited to lifting no more than 10 lbs with my left arm.  This is due to having so many lymph nodes removed from my left armpit area, and since the area will receive quite a bit of radiation.  My radiation oncologist implemented the restrictions to help prevent lymphedema to my left arm.  So, I am figuring out how to lift Abbey with my right arm and side only, using the left arm only for little support.   It is tricky, but I am figuring it out. I am trying only to lift her in and out of the carseat, in and out of her crib, and in and out of the highchair. I try to change her diaper on the floor when possible, but Miss Abbey is so squirmy most of the time when changing her diaper on the ground.  To avoid a "mess" I often will go ahead and change her on the changing table.

I have also already noticed some re-tightening of my left arm and chest area, so I will be starting the physical therapy back up next week.

What is Radiation therapy?
Radiation therapy is very interesting. In fact, it is so interesting that it seems I have a new question for the radiation technicians each day. I'm just trying to understand how it all works.  I am going to try to sneak some photos with my phone and write a post all about radiation soon.  Hopefully after a few more rounds, I will have a better idea of what exactly they are doing to me.  :-)

Thanks again for your continued prayers.  They are helping significantly to get me through these trials.

Love and blessings,


  1. Hi Heather, this is Sue from your Mom and Dad's church. I have followed your progress since I was going through some of the same treatments. I had my last radiation treatment yesterday after the 33 prescribed. I had mixed emotions - I have been under such constant care for so long I felt a little anxious about flying alone for awhile. I've been very pleased will all of my doctors and treatments and will continue with follow up visits. I too am full of questions and they have been most pleasant and try to answer the best they can. I continually pray for you and your family and love looking at the pictures. God is good! Oh, I enjoyed your section on prayer - answered some questions I sometimes ask. Thank you.

    1. Hi Sue! I was so glad to meet you on Easter Sunday. I am so excited for your last radiation treatment yesterday! I hope your skin has held up well. I totally understand the mixed emotions. We se our treatment team providers so frequently until the treatment ends--and then we will see them every few months. I imagine I will feel similarly. God is good! Thanks for your comment!