Radiation Day One

Yesterday I had my first radiation treatment and all went well.

Key points;

The room was much warmer than the CT room.

I still got to have a warm blanket.

The ‘bed’ was all set to match the last time.

*No pain! In fact, nothing touches you at all other than the bolus. 

They can even tape the bolus without tape on your skin!

They were playing music which you could easily hear over the machine.

Your whole job is to lie still and breathe. 

A good chance to pray for everyone on your prayer list.

Tell Me Face-to-Face!

bitmoji767993325In case you aren’t following along, I had recently received results from tests and from the tumor board meeting over the phone from a receptionist and was totally confused. I didn’t feel I understood anything from the news as it didn’t mesh with anything I had heard recently. This is not how patients should ever hear information about their health or plans!

Prior to the tests I was told I would have a meeting with the surgeon, who ordered the tests, after the tumor board meeting. That is what I expected and then to just hear over-the-phone basics was a shock! The next I was told to expect was a call from the radiation oncologist’s office to book an appointment. Since I had previously been old there would not be any radiation until far later in my journey, I was a bit freaked out! They called to give me an appointment for yesterday, which they later changed to next week.

On Wednesday I had my appointment with the medical oncologist which had been booked the day I finished chemo two months ago. It was originally to get started on hormone treatment, Tamoxifen. Tom and I went in with no idea what to expect and with memories of our first appointment with her when we were told that I had stage 4 cancer and would not be treated for a cure, but just to manage the cancer.

Without boring you with tons of details, in this face-to-face meeting she was able to explain the results, the plan and the rational in about ten minutes and we left much relieved! The board decided that since the chemo went so well they would switch gears a bit and continue aggressive treatment. So now I’m back to the mastectomy and chemo plan with an additional radiation treatment in Halifax which will directly attack the spot on my rib. When all that is done I will then start hormone treatment with a new drug which has recently been approved. The procedures may be scary, but it is action and that feels good.

So much stress and fear would have been totally avoided if the receptionist told me nothing and just set up an appointment like I was expecting when I called.

Heading to meet the radiation oncologist.

I have been working to catch this blog up to my present day, but today I am going to jump forward to today for a moment. Today I have an appointment with the doctor who will be my radiation oncologist. It seems odd to be meeting him first as it is my understanding at this point that I will be having chemo first.

There is a lot I don’t really understand about how the systems work, or what is regular timing. I was told by both my family doctor and my surgeon that things would be moving quickly and yet it has been a couple weeks and I am still not scheduled for all of the tests that have to be done before meeting the chemo oncologist. Knowing that it takes a week or more to get results from tests it is hard to imagine getting started attacking this thing before December. I lack perspective partly since I have not had any major health issues before.

Ok, so.I’m here in St John for my appointment. We were early so we went to the cafeteria for lunch. As we were walking past all the signs for radiation and cancer treatment I said to Tom, “I vote for a no-thank-you serving!” It is all just a little too real now!

The waiting room is nice and every other person has the same yellow wrist band I have. It isn’t a club I would have chosen for sure!

OK, the appointment is over. I’m glad I have written down a list of dates for all my appointments and tests so far as the doctor asked me for all of them. He went through that, did a breast exam and then went through things with us. He says it is T4 (Staging & Grading) which means I won’t qualify for the trial treatment which doesn’t irradiate under the arm. He agrees with my surgeon that he will be seeing me after chemo and surgery are done. He expects me to need 25 treatments which is 5 weeks of radiation each week day.