Wow, time is flying. Tomorrow will be treatment 14 which will mark the halfway point. After treatment 11 I noticed that my skin was starting to look a bit sunburned and be somewhat uncomfortable. I just hope it stays okay for the second half. Since all of the tissue was removed from my breasts, all that is left is muscle wall and skin. The linear accelerator has a hard time treating the surface and wants to go down into the tissue which is why they put the wet towel over my chest. It tricks the machine into thinking that is my flesh so when it treats me it is actually treating the correct area. The desired affect is to have irritated skin since any remaining cancer cells would be within the skin/muscle so if the surface is looking burned we know it is reaching the right area to burn up those cells. So, pain in the butt for me but it’s actually a good sign.
My mental status has not improved and I’ve started using little schedules for myself a’la preschool style. I have missed several things that have never even entered my mind (forgetting to take my meds a while back should have been a clue, huh?) When these things have been brought to my attention is has been quite a shock to realize how much I’m missing. I told one of my therapists that it could be a sign that I’m actually losing my mind since I clearly have no awareness that it’s happening. I’ve had a hard time pronouncing words now and then too – a little more than being tongue tied to the point that I’ve actually had the thought “could I be having a stroke or something?”. Also, I’m still spending a decent amount of time being dizzy or lightheaded. I had to have mom drive me around today because it was bad enough that I couldn’t drive myself. They have been thinking it’s because of my low blood counts and not getting enough oxygen but they didn’t do labs today so I’m not sure where that is currently. These are pretty normal long term affects. I don’t think most people realize that you don’t just “get better” after cancer treatments. Especially when you’ve had a lot of treatments as I have. Of course I am very happy to be alive and I will deal with whatever they had to do to keep me on the right side of the grass. Saying that, cancer treatments were created to save lives and the quality of that life is generally pretty affected afterwards (I’ve already written about that, right?). These are things that I’m going to deal with most likely for the rest of my life so if I have to make detailed schedules to get me through each day I might as well get used to it now.
I have been making friends in the local AYA (adolescent, young adult) community. Who knew there was one? It’s amazing. I am trying to get involved and help out wherever I can which is great.
I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and think about life after cancer. Just even thinking that is amazing as for a long time that has been a concept I’ve been unable to wrap my head around. I guess it’s more life after treatment as I will always have cancer in my thoughts as I’m sure all survivors do. One of my new friends had her double mastectomy this week. I hate that we have to go through this, but I was very happy to see her go home the following day and not have the complications that I did. I know I can’t make it go away but I can’t stop the feeling of needing to help those going through it. I don’t want to stop it really. I think if anyone had even a fraction of the feelings that one faces going through cancer, most of them would bend over backwards to help. But I compare it to having a child – you can’t know how it feels until you do it. You can’t imagine how much you can change when you don’t have any choice. There is no way to explain the feelings, of course I was blogging then so I’m sure I tried. I have never gone back and read anything I’ve written – I’m sure I will someday.