Thursday, March 24, 2011

A plan for the third quarter

Today I had my radiation oncology consult.  Dr. Radiologist is knowledgeable and comedic, rounding out my trifecta of amazing cancer-fighting doctors.  He volunteered praise for Dr. Oncologist, saying that he'd want her to be his doctor if he had cancer.  Additionally, he previously worked at a nearby cancer center in the state's captital and suggested that it's not as impressive as the one here.  He called the one here a diamond in the rough, not that America's heartland is rough.  Just thought I'd throw those details out there for any folks who still doubt the quality of care that I am receiving here in the pseudo-sticks.

State-of-the-art radiation equipment is indeed available here, which was an important detail for me to investigate according to my friend's dad/radiologist.  I will be doing twice-daily radiation, 6 hours apart, for 15 days (excluding weekends) using intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT).  The type and course of radiation is based on recent research from the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, according to Dr. Rad.  IMRT is the type of radiation that is recommended for women with high-risk types of cancer and I am one of those women, despite my clear surgical margins, because my cancer was inflammatory breast cancer.  This radiation will have few side effects, and those will include certain redness and possible blistering of the skin towards the end of the treatment course.  Another tiny possibility is that damage to a smidgen of lung will affect my breathing; the radiation will miss my heart entirely.  The last side effect is fatigue, but Dr. Radiologist more or less said that compared to chemo fatigue I might laugh at radiation fatigue.  I'm thinking I'll be able to work half days at least in the beginning:  home, radiation, work, radiation, home.  We shall see.  My radiation appointments are not yet scheduled because I need the go-ahead from Dr. Surgeon in Iowa City and I need full range of motion in the shoulder.  I'm working on it.  First physical therapy appointment tomorrow.    

Notice how I used the word "was" in the above paragraph when talking about my cancer?  Pretty cool, huh?  Today is the first time I noticed my use of the past tense when referring to my cancer, and it made me giddy.  Chemo made my cancer a smaller "is", and surgery made it a "was".  Radiation's goal is to take away the "will be".  Hopefully the T9 spine thing was an absurd anomaly and this whole ordeal will have a tidy conclusion.  

I'll leave you with a funny anecdote.  Yesterday Ian and I were cleaning up dinner, but Azalea was ready for me to play with her in the living room.  Three-year-olds are not patient individuals, and although I appealed to her logic by saying I'd be there in a literal minute she kept up a slow chant of, "Mom-mmmmy.  Mom-mmmmy.  Mom-mmmmy."  Then she appealed to my logic and commanded me to lay down in my chair.  I have logged countless recovery hours in said chair this winter, and it has been my stage for countless hours of mommy-directed playtime:  books, puzzles, cuddles.  I'm guessing she figured it was nearly my chair time, which would speed her to play time with me.

Clearly I've spent too much time being sick; young minds do not remember me otherwise.


  1. I still keep scrolling to your last post. Gross :)

    Speaking of older posts, You are already to stages 6 and 7 of your recovery stages. Woohoo!

    As always thanks for keeping us updated on your treatment.

    Sending good shoulder/physical therapy vibes your way!


  2. Soon your kids won't be thinking of you as "sick" and waiting for their time to sit and enjoy "mommy-time". Soon your kids will be thinking of you as the strong, vibrant, energy-filled mom that keeps them busy outdoors all evening and weekend long; takes them to dance lessons; helps them create works of beauty of large scale on the kitchen floor; the mother who goes out and dances in the spring rain, smells the flowers during the summer, plays in the leaf piles of fall, and throws snowballs in the winter. Your cancer will be such a small "blip" on their time table!

  3. I just feel like saying YAHOO from reading this post!!! Things are coming together. Yay Heather!

  4. When its Ian who has to sit in the chair to get your attention, then you'll know this has gone on long enough for sure...on the other hand, as Martha points out, you're closing in on the end. I daresay those are more than skylights ahead of you. Now go get nuked and keep improving!

  5. Well I dare say that the chanting was a very good ploy at getting this grandma to move very quickly! Tink-er-bell! At least Eleanor didn't chime in. That is most intimidating!!!
    How cool that the radiation is only 15 days. Ha ha that won't seem like anything in comparison with all the things that you have muscled through so far. You are an amazing woman and I am proud to be your mom!

  6. I love the sound of normal creeping back into your life. xoxoxo

  7. I love me some past tense when we're talkin' about cancer!

    So glad you're starting to see some light!!!