Beating Breast Cancer – Weekly Update, 9-10-2017

I was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and have decided to blog about my journey.  If you need to catch up on my story, please check out this page for the chronological list of posts.

Beating Breast Cancer as a Thirty Something

Well it was another week of radiation here in my neck of the woods.  My fifth week, to be exact.  Due to Labor Day, I only had four rounds this week.

red skin from radiation

My skin is now definitely feeling like I have had five weeks of radiation.  My armpit feels like it’s on fire a lot of the time…I use the Miaderm lotion all day long.  My skin has started feeling tight, especially when compared to the side that was not zapped.  Check out the picture above…you can see how precise the radiation process is by that crisp line in my armpit.  There is no blurred line along the edge like there would be if the machine hit in slightly different spots each day.  Oh, no.  They are zapping the exact same spot every day, and that crisp line is proof.

At the skin check on Friday, the doctor said that my skin is doing well for this point in radiation.  He said that he will check things out on the day of my last round of radiation.  If my skin still looks good, I will be able to wait a couple of months before my next check-up with him.  If it is blistering and looking crummy, he will want to see me back again after a week.  I’m always up for fewer appointments, so I’m hoping my skin doesn’t start blistering and peeling.

hair growth post-chemo

My hair is growing like crazy.  Check it out!  Pardon the all-natural, fresh-out-of-bed look, but I wanted to show you that I now have enough hair for bed head!  Plus, this picture shows just how much my brows and lashes have grown lately.

The one thing that has NOT improved is my weight.  Bummer.  I took this week off from my walk/jog because I couldn’t run outside due to the air quality (there is a wildfire nearby) and it is hard to break away from life and drive across town to the gym.  Excuses, excuses.  I know.  But really…other than a few days of emotional eating (more on that in a second), I have also been trying to watch what I eat.  Prior to cancer, the slight changes I have made in diet and exercise would have caused weight to peel off (especially with this much extra weight to lose), but not now.  With my hormones still out of whack, it has been REALLY hard to lose this cancer weight.

Back to emotional eating.  One thing about the location of the cancer center is that it is directly across the parking lot from the women’s center.  Every so often, as I walk out of the cancer center following a round of radiation, I look across the parking lot and see a lovely pregnant woman coming out of the women’s center at the same time.

And I get sad.

Yes, technically I haven’t had my ovaries removed yet and I have been getting the shot that protects my ovaries during chemo (in order to suppress my estrogen production).  I am still technically a candidate for a miracle baby.  But we decided a while ago that I want to be healthy for the babies I have, and introducing a bunch of prenatal and post-partum hormones into my system would be playing with fire.  That’s about as much detail as I will share publicly about our family planning decisions.  Even though it was our decision to make, I felt like cancer forced my hand.  So I am still grieving that loss.  The grief comes in waves, and I’m usually very at peace with my decision.  For some reason, this was a hard week.

I know that it’s important to acknowledge whatever emotions that I’m having throughout this process.  The other thing I’ve felt creeping up is the same anxiety that I had towards the end of chemo, now that I’m nearing the end of radiation.  Did we get all of the microscopic cancer cells?  What if we didn’t?  It’s a nagging feeling that I will soon be a sitting duck, trying to squeeze in as many years as possible before recurrence.  And I don’t like it.  It feels too pessimistic and that’s not the person I am.  I’m not sure what my survivorship plan will look like yet, but I’m definitely a person who will want to feel like I am doing something to fight cancer even though I’m not actively in treatment.

So that was my week in a nutshell. Not too much going on in the cancer department.  There is a lot more slated for next week, including my LAST WEEK OF CANCER TREATMENT!  Whoo-hoo!

Keep Reading —> Weekly Update, September 18, 2017 {Last Week of Radiation, Zoladex, Port Flush, Surgery Plan, Tender Mercies}