I started radiation this week. Just wanted to post a little bit about my initial experience and thoughts.
On Nov. 1st, I had to go get "mapped out" for radiation. That basically means that they made a 3-D model of my boobs so they could "program" my radiation. They laid me down, made marks on my chest with a red sharpie, put tape with a metal wire in it over the marks (and over my incision), ran me through a CAT scan, took pictures of my "girls" (I hope that wasn't his personal camera), and then gave me three dot tattoos (one on the outside of each cupcake, and one on my chest right between the girls). Then it was up to Dr. K (my radiation oncologist) to make up a gameplan.
I went back in this last Monday (11/12), for a final test run. This time they laid me down on the actual contraption where I would be getting the radiation. There were more sharpie marks and graffiti added to my chest. They used laser levels to line me up on the machine properly. There I was, arms stretched out above my head, with green and red lasers criss-crossing my chest. It looked like something from Mission Impossible and I half expected Tom Cruise to repel down from the ceiling over me - which would have REALLY upset me since I DO NOT like Mr. Cruise! They ceiling by the way, has a beautiful mural of a lake surrounded by pine trees and snow covered mountains in the background. It's nice, but the image makes you even colder while lying there exposed. I would prefer a beach scene. At least then I could pretend that I'm just there tanning!
So, once everything was lined up, they started taking x-rays of my chest (one can never have too many pictures)! It's hard to explain, but Frankenboob was actually making shadow puppets during the process. I had to fight back the giggles - moving while on the treatment table is frowned upon. I really do wish I could have gotten pictures of that though. One more tattoo was added to Frankenboob and then I was all set to start treatment the next day. Gotta admit, I was getting pretty nervous!
Now that I have my first session done, I can tell you that it wasn't bad! It was painless and pretty quick. The actual radiation part only took about 10 minutes. It took almost that long to get me on the table and everything lined up. I was sure that after 35 of these zap-sessions, Frankenboob would glow in the dark but my mother in-law informs me that it will more than likely "sizzle" instead of glow (she's been through it, so she knows). I was hoping for some kind of super power or fun party trick to come out of it, but I guess not. It will be pretty unnerving if I start to detect the smell of bacon during treatment!
I've been told that I will probably experience fatigue towards the middle to end of my "therapy". My skin will be sensitive one that side of my chest, back, underarm, side, shoulder and neck. It could get a bit like a bad sunburn. No deodorant or shaving that pit (yikes!! That could get ugly and I have to lay there with my arms above my head!?! Luckily, my head is turned slightly in the opposite direction!). No perfume in that area. Sensitive skin soap. Pat the area dry. No necklaces. Lots of lotion (udder cream). They'd also like me to leave Frankenboob unbound as much a possible. It's all about being kind and gentle to my skin during this process. I'm sure it will all become part of my normal routine soon enough.
There you have it. That's radiation so far. #2 of 35 this afternoon. It's basically 5 zap-sessions a week for 7-weeks. My last one is on January 2nd. I'm kinda bummed because I was hoping to be done by New Year's, but holiday scheduling messed up that plan. Oh well, onward!