Ok, so perhaps a bit extreme on the title, as it’s not plutonium, afterall, but perhaps this summarizes my fear of radiation. I remember watching this movie years ago (many) and the scene where they are scrubbing Merle Streep down because she got exposed still sticks with me. Yes, extreme. Yes, weird. But hey, it’s where my mind goes. Right along with Spiderman, the Incredible Hulk, Godzilla, and a host of science fiction movies where very bizarre and unpleasant things happen to people exposed to radiation.
Ok, I don’t really think I’m going to turn into a big green monster, maybe only glow in the dark once in a while, but I wasn’t thrilled about meeting with the radiation oncologist today. Turns out, Dr. Thomas called him with my reservations (her fear that I would skip town), and he (Dr. Peters) was fully armed for battle. He talked — a lot! He shared statistics, he showed us the website (www.nccn.org) used to determine recommended treatment plans, and he answered all of my questions and validated and/or tempered my concerns. He threw around terms like “risk / benefit analysis”, which are very near and dear to my heart since I work in Risk Management. He even sent home a DVD he insisted we watch. He came at me with everything he had. He was smooth. Very smooth.
And, in the end, I guess he won. I get it. I get the reasons. I just don’t have to be happy about it. But how do you say “no”, risk a recurrence, and worry that you should have done everything possible? So I’ll do it. For my family. For the hope that I have another 35 years left in this body.
Dr. Peters explained that chemo is your insurance policy against metastasis in other parts of your body. Radiation is your policy against rogue cells remaining in the site of the cancer (lymph nodes, scar tissue, etc.), particularly when your tumor was 8 centimeters. Given where the radiation will occur, it is highly unlikely that I will experience issues with my heart or lungs. Potentially, my thyroid could be impacted, but I’ll be resorting to my Epsom salt and baking soda baths to help mitigate against that. (Aimee, I’ll be looking for supplement guidance on this one!)
I understand that there are lots of alternative options out there, too, and I’ll be working on all of those as well.
I am scheduled for my prep session on January 28th. Alas, this means more radiation (CT scan). And then radiation will begin the first week of February. It is expected to be 6-7 weeks, if you count the “booster” that is just on the scar tissue, 5 days a week. Potential / likely side effects include “sunburn” and fatigue, although most of my breast cancer friends said this wasn’t an issue. Everyone says that chemo was the easy part, and I hope they are right.