It is more important to know where you are going, than how long it takes to get there.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Color Purple...

If you have ever shopped for white paint, you know that there are a crazy amount of different white tones. They range from a neon/bluish white to a yellowish/khaki white. This range of whites represents my skin tone from spring all the way through summer. I don't tan, but I can turn a dark shade of white. Even when I taught windsurfing one entire summer, I did not tan.

If I don't use sunscreen, my skin would represent the pink tones. I am careful about not sunburning my skin because I want to look as good as my grandmothers did in their golden years. They never sunned their skin, and aged beautifully. In her 90's, my grandmother looked better than most face lifts. However, radiation has turned the skin on my left chest and underarm from white to light pink to bright fuchsia.

My newest color is the color purple. I didn't even know that one's skin could turn this color. On the color wheel, my purple skin is closer to red than blue. (blue + red = purple) My toasted skin often itches, and sometime aches. My skin also feels thick and tight, especially under my left arm which looks the most purple. I had to cancel my physical therapy because I couldn't bear someone pulling and stretching my colorful skin.

I look like a doll that was colored by a little girl who loves pink and purple.

Today Chubba drove me to radiation because I was very dizzy this morning. I saw Dr. Dad's nurse about the dizziness, and she told me that is could not be related to radiation, and that I could possibly have a virus. She checked all my vitals, and they were normal. Chubba saw the whole radiation routine. He thought the radiation machine looked like something from "Honey I Shrunk the Kids." There are three radiation rooms, and I am assigned to room #2. Sometimes I will have a new tech rotating in from another room. Today I had a new gal that made a couple of mistakes. Over an intercom, a tech instructs me "inhale" before they turn on each radiation zap, and "breathe" after it goes off. The new tech forgot to tell me to breathe after I had been holding my breath for 20 seconds. Fortunately I had danced these steps a few times, so I knew the routine and that it was okay to breathe. Her second mistake was more disconcerting. She forgot to tell me to "inhale" before she turned on the machine. I heard it go on and quickly inhaled, and moments later she said "inhale." I wanted to yell - "too late!" I hope this one zap of radiation wasn't enough to damage a lung. If she is there tomorrow, I am going to remind her to warn me to "inhale" before the radiation is turned on.

I have two more weeks of radiation. However, I have four weeks of side affects left. I will have a lot to be thankful for on Thanksgiving. Bring on the stuffing and the gravy! (Just don't tell my oncologist who keeps telling me to lose weight. She's right - I can read the scale too.)

This whole cancer - surgery/chemo/radiation thing is getting old and wearing on me. I have never run a marathon, but I imagine this is what the last few miles must feel like. I just need to suck it up and get over the dang finish line.

Whacky thought for the day...
Is "dark shade of white" an oxymoron?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Let It Grow, Let It Grow, Let It Grow...

Oh the weather outside if frightful,
And the fire is so delightful,
New stubble is beginning to show,
Let It Grow, Let It Grow, Let It Grow.

Last week I thought I saw hair growing on my legs so I shaved them for the first time in three months. I might have been premature because they are still as smooth as a baby's behind. However, my head is beginning to show signs of growth. The top of my head is starting to look a little darker, BUT the sides in the front are coming in light - yikes! I am going to look like a reverse skunk - dark in the middle and gray on the sides! I am one of those that doesn't believe in gray hair, but coloring is not an option when it first begins to grow back. There must be some natural, organic, gentle hair coloring that I can use.

I was so cold last night that I wore a ski hat and ski socks to bed. Yes, I was very attractive. I guess if you bald gradually, getting cold at night from the absence of hair is not an issue. In middle of the night, my internal heating mechanism kicked in, aka hot flash, and suddenly the hat and socks sailed across the room.

My radiation rash itched so badly tonight that I thought I was going to lose my mind. It reminded me of the time my brother Roco, as a little boy, broke his leg, got a full leg cast, and then got chicken about itching that you can't scratch! (No matter how bad I feel, I know someone has it worse, so I shouldn't whine.) I just kept putting more and more radiation cream on it, and finally it subsided. Are you starting to scratch as you read this? You know, like when someone starts yawning and you begin to yawn too.

Whacky thought for the day...
Why is yawning contagious?

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Walk In The Park...

Many people told me that radiation was going to be easier than chemotherapy. Several doctors, who clearly have not personally experienced radiation or chemotherapy, said that radiation was the "easy part." The only people who did not say that radiation was going to be easy were my radiation oncologist, Dr. Dad, and people who actually walked down the chemotherapy and radiation paths.

I just completed my fourth week of radiation, and it has been no walk in the park. I am battling exhaustion daily. My radiated skin feels tight, and being stretched out on the table/couch reinforces the tight feelings. The techs call the table "couch" when they are adjusting and spinning it to a specific angle to the machine. Believe me, I have napped on several couches, and this table is no couch. I have a rash that looks like an terrible heat rash on the left side of my chest, and behind my left shoulder. The reason I have a rash behind my left shoulder is that even though I am laying on my back, the radiation goes all the way through my body from front to back, affecting the skin on my back. Dr. Dad told me this might happen. The rash itches and I try to regularly put radiation cream on it to sooth the itching and burning. Where there is no rash, the skin if sunburned pink. I look like that person who feel asleep at the beach their side, getting sunburned on one side, and still white on the other. I have three more weeks of radiation fun.

Today I counted the duration of each radiation zap. The first zap lasts 16 seconds, requiring me to inhale and hold my breath for about 18 seconds. I think this long zap targets the chest area where my skin is red and bumpy. The next longest zap was 6 seconds. The rest of the zaps only last 1-3 seconds. I get zapped 10 times each visit.

I actually prefer chemotherapy over radiation. I know this sounds strange. At least with chemotherapy I could take a pill and get over whatever was ailing me. Plus, I was fortunate to have only four cycles of chemo that only took a few hours each treatment. Recently, a breast cancer survivor told me about her neighbor that is going through 17 hours of chemotherapy each cycle for a different kind of cancer. This makes my chemotherapy look like an easy stroll through the park.

Last week Molly went with me to radiation again because she was having asthma issues, and Chubba was on the road. This time she was allowed to stay in the control room and watch everything. She told the techs that I said that part of the machine looks like "noodles." I had to clarify that I said dried spaghetti pasta. They showed her all the parts of the machine, and she saw the spaghetti pasta-like teeth open and close to form different shapes. She said that this was a fun field trip.

Whacky thought for the day...
Hair is more than a head accessory, it provides warmth.
I didn't realize how cold I would feel being bald.