Radiation, Last Chemo, and All That Jazz

It has taken me way too long to write this, but we have had a lot going on around here! Even right now, I am chemo sick but have a toddler sitting next to me babbling away because he has separation anxiety and basically will only leave my side if dragged away kicking and screaming (literally). Yes, we have a doctor’s appointment scheduled re this.

On Monday morning, I went in for my radiation prep. I have been DREADING this, mostly because of the tattoos. When I was speaking with the two –  nurses? techs? I never know exactly what they are in theses situations – gentlemen regarding the procedure, what was going to happen, etc, I expressed concern over the tattoos. I told them I’d been told they would resemble freckles, but that I am so fair-skinned that all my freckles are light brown, so there is no way a blue-black spot is going to look like a freckle on me. I also told them that Dr. Morris – the radiation oncologist – had told me that if they really bothered me, I could have them removed.

“Have you seen or heard about the ultraviolet tattoos? They’re pink,” the one gentleman, Dan, asked me.

“No!” I replied, and the other gentleman, Jude, showed me one he had on his arm. Now, Jude was rather dark-skinned, so on him, the tattoo was really only visible under ultraviolet light. Still, PINK! Say no more, mon amour!

(Also, turns out Rex Manning Day is only 7 days away, so this is quite à propos.)

Anyhow, the lying in the CAT machine was no problem for me. I’m not really claustrophobic (which I swear I was asked if I was at least a dozen times that morning), and I just closed my eyes anyhow. I was a bit nervous about what the tattooing would feel like, although they were very blasé about it. Turns out they don’t use a gun or anything, it’s just an old fashioned tattoo. They put a little ink on your skin and pop it in with a needle. Doesn’t even hurt as much as a shot since you don’t have the injection part. Super easy! So I got four of those – one on each side, just off my breasts, that I can’t even see, then one right in my cleavage, then one kind of at the end of my sternum. They’re all very small and look like pin pricks of fluorescent pink highlighter, but when you shine a black light on them, they glow! I really want to get a pic of them to post but it’s hard to hold my boobs apart and click at the same time, so I will have to enlist the help of Julian this evening – stay tuned!

So got through that okay. I think I have already talked about radiation and side effects but as a quick recap, I will be starting on April 20th and going for six weeks – so through about the first week of June. It’s about 15 minutes a day, five days a week. At first I will feel fine but the fatigue will be cumulative. I will also likely get a sunburn like rash on my right breast where they shoot the ray in. It’s possible the treatment will affect my breast’s size and texture, though I’m praying ol’ Ruby makes it through this unscathed. I have to discontinue a bunch of supplements – including my multivitamin! – before I start treatment, which is kind of weird/awesome. LESS pills to take for once! And the nurse recommended I use calendula lotion on Ruby three times a day, which is going to be a pain in the neck, but I’ll do it. That’s about it for radiation info I think.

Then on Wednesday, the big day – LAST CHEMO! It feels weird to say “last chemo,” almost like I am tempting fate, so I usually try to add, “hopefully.” But that’s what we’re planning on.

My friends Erin, Alida, and Mari came by to celebrate with me, and their visits were nicely staggered so I had company (besides Jules of course) the whole time. And Erin brought me THESE:


 Which are fabulous and nearly one of a kind, as she bought them from a street vendor in San Francisco who doesn’t have a web site! I have been looking and looking for my black cat tattoo design and everything is either blah or too fancy or too typical – and now these! And Julian suggested I have the eye be the ultraviolet spot which sounds SO rad. So maybe this is it!
Anyhow last chemo went fine and although I am now of course chemo sick I am so happy and positive and the sun has been shining like crazy so I am feeling so good about all of this! Nearing the end of the road now and really looking forward to putting this all behind me and reclaiming my life.