Friday, February 12, 2010

Radiation: 8 down, 25 to go -- hey what's up with my arm!?

Radiation update: So far, radiation treatment has been going well. I get in and out of there rather efficiently. Well, except for the parking situation there but I'm not "going there" right now because I'm focusing on positive stuff right now. ;) Every day, Monday through Friday, I drive a few miles to the radiation oncologist's office for my seven minutes of zippity zap radiation treatment. I arrive bearing gifts for the office staff and therapists every day because I love making people smile and laugh - especially people who see a variety of patients and prognoses daily. Physicians' office staff, therapists, nurses - they're on the front lines of this battle. They can make or break a patient's day, and vice versa. I choose to be the one that leaves them smiling and laughing. Ut oh, lymphedema: On Monday night while getting ready for bed I noticed my left arm was feeling a little bit heavier and bigger than usual. I put the compression sleeve and gauntlet glove on as a precaution and in the morning I took measurements to compare my arms. My left arm was 3/4 inch bigger than the right one. It has begun. The dreaded L word: lymphedema. Dang! ;/ When a person is at risk for developing lymphedema due to the surgical removal of lymph nodes, their risk doubles when they have radiation treatment to the affected arm/area. My risk went from 25% to 50% chance of developing it. I was seeing the radiation oncologist that day (Tuesday) so I showed him and I as I suspected would happen I received a Rx for physical therapy and manual lymph drainage massage for the treatment of lymphedema. I've been wearing the sleeve/glove around the clock ever since. *sigh* Thankfully, the sleeve has helped bring the swelling down to 1/2 inch. I got in for a PT consult yesterday, and tomorrow is my first session with the specialist. I'm so happy she works on Saturdays ;) and that Bob will be home with Cooper while I go. She's supposedly the best in the business which is good because there aren't very many certified lymphedema specialists in southern CA. Overall: Other than the arm business, things are good. I feel pretty good - still tired more than normal and that will worsen as I get further along with my radiation schedule. So far, my skin is holding up just fine. I hear from others who have been through radiation that it takes between 2-4 weeks of treatment to see much affect on the skin. Hair!: My hair is growing back and I joke that I feel like a human chia pet. Remember those!? I have been annoyed with the hair because it has been sticking straight up and won't "stand down" for me - at least not until today when I decided to grease it up with a palm full of shea butter cream. So, it's standing down now with an "enhanced" slick look haha. It's a tradeoff I'm willing to endure while it grows out. I was just so tired of seeing the fuzz standing straight up like that so I had to do something. I'm pretty sure Bob was convinced I was going to shave it all off again because I have said many times that I feel I looked better completely bald than with this fuzzy chia pet look. But I meant it when I said I had shaved it for the last time back on Dec.17th. Vitamin D check: I had my vitamin D blood level checked and was surprised to find my level was still well below the recommended level. I was a 44 and experts say it should be over 60 but even better if closer to 80 based on studies looking at the link between cancer and vitamin D. I was surprised to be at 44 since I take 2000 iui of D3 daily. I called Dr.Hardy for advice and she recommended I double my supplement level and recheck my level in 4-6 weeks to see if it has helped. Kidneys: Additional blood work results are in and they look pretty good. My white cell count dropped back down to just above 4 which surprised me since I was above 6 in January. My red cell count is good but my platelets are on the low side - but not too bad. One number that did concern me a little was my bun/creatinine ratio which was high but it could be because of the protein-only diet I had the 24 hour period before the test (which I had to do for the PET scan), but it could also be other things. I'm going on the assumption that it was the protein intake since doc hasn't called to discuss it with me and he's seen the results already. I've left a message for him just in case but I won't hear from him til middle of next week. I imagine we'll recheck it when I have the next blood draw to recheck all my other numbers in a month. I have faith in God - He will protect me and get me through all of this as He has thus far, with flying colors :). Fun weekend ahead: We have a fun weekend planned with trial toddler gym and music classes tomorrow and then Sunday worship and the start of a new small group meeting Sunday. Bob will be home this weekend and it will be great to spend some quality time with my boys :). I wish you all a blessed weekend! Love, Julie


  1. Sounds like overall, things are going pretty well. I'm sorry to hear about the Lymphedema, but I have faith that you will kick its butt back out of your system like you have everything else! Enjoy your weekend. You deserve a wonderful fun filled weekend with your boys!!

  2. Mmmm, Vitamin D3.... They're the favorite part of my day! This is what I have:

    Organic lemon gummy chews!