So I'm 2 weeks away from the end of radiation!!! (Oct 22) Things have been going very well. It wasn't until this week that my skin started to get really pink/red, but they tell me its holding up really well. No oozing or anything, so that is a good sign. I've been putting massive amounts of aloe on it several times a day, as directed. The lady before me, who I made friends with in passing from waiting room encounters, finished up this week, and she was telling me that her skin was starting to peel, so I guess I can expect that in my near future. And I have noticeably been getting more tired in the evenings. Somewhere around 8:45pm, I feel KER-THUNK, and I just know I'm done for the day. haha. However, it could be also the head cold I'm currently fighting too. Darn, head colds. Every time the weather changes, there it is! #kidgerms
I also had an appointment with my oncologist this week. I love to see her! And all the staff at medical oncology. They are so nice and excited whenever we come in. Superman came with me to the appointment and they immediately comment on 1. my hair 2. how cute we look in our royals shirts together. Superman left early to rush back to Topeka Jazz Workshop rehearsal, and one of the office ladies was like "You have such great support. We talk about you and your husband all the time. You are so lucky." To which I reply, Han-Solo-Style, "I know." Followed by big smile. And I hear Ben Fold's "The luckiest" playing in my brain. :)
My oncologist went ahead and sent in my prescription for Tamoxifan, which I will start taking immediately a day or two after I'm done, and listed through the expected side effects.
She asked me if I've started up my menstrual cycle yet. NOPE. Been wondering, and hoping my ovaries don't try to make up for lost time. (RAWR! How dare you put us to sleep like that! Let's shed All The Things.) At some point, they will come back, and probably irregularly for awhile. She said when I become regular, I need to watch out for abnormal bleeding because that could be a sign of uterine/endometrial cancer, of which Tamoxifan has a SLIGHT risk for. (One in ten thousand risk. The benefits FAR FAR outweigh the risks. She said she has never seen it happen in her career, but you gotta keep an eye on that. Plus, my genetic testing was all negative too.) She also said to watch out for blood clots in the legs, abnormal swelling and pain, because of the risk of clotting. However, I'm at low risk for that because I've never had blood clotting issues before. Hot flashes may continue, but will probably go away after my periods come back. I've still been having them anyway from chemo/ovary shut down. Not as often. Thats a non-issue for me. Especially with cooler weather coming up. There's a misconception that Tamoxifan puts you into menopause. She says, that is not true. In fact, sometimes its used as a fertility drug. haha! whoa!
We talked about frequency of future testing. Mammograms every 6 months. But because of my density, I will probably need to do MRI's too, because the mammograms may be unclear. (UG. MENTAL TORTURE. 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-2-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-3-2....skip.....How many more minutes left?????!)
No plans for CAT scans or anything unless I experience new symptoms or have any concerns. She said I'm at very low risk for reoccurrence and scheduling unnecessary tests would just put me through uncertainty, stress waiting for results, and unneeded radiation. She said things that would cause concern is if I'm having pain in my hip I've never had before, or pulled a muscle, or a cough/cold that doesn't clear up on its own after 2 weeks, those are times that I should call and say something. Its still unlikely to be cancer, but that's when they would think about, ok, maybe its time to schedule that CAT scan.
I mentioned that I have tight joints in my hips and shoulders after I've been sitting down. She said its probably the after-effects of chemo and that I should keep moving and exercising and it will get better. Chemo doesn't cause permanent damage to joints.
She did say she would refer me for a physical therapy session for my right arm, just to get information regarding lymphedema (of which I have low risk for because of my lower invasive lymph node removal). She wants me to get fitted for sleeve, so I can wear it if I fly in an airplane or whatever, to prevent swelling. Lymphedema, once it happens, is NOT curable. So its important to prevent it from happening.
I had a few questions:
My tumor showed 50% estrogen and 50% progesterone receptors. Tamoxifan treats estrogen. What about progesterone? She told me a medically complicated answer about cancer cells binding onto this or regulating and that estrogen related to progesterone mechanisms so it works for both, blah blah. I didn't really understand it, but it sounded good and I feel comfortable that the other half of the problem is being treated too.
Other questions - I'm cleared to get a tattoo. (my little pink elephant! I'm thinking sometime in February to commemorate my one year from diagnosis). I'm not at risk of infection or bleeding or anything like that. Doctor approved.
And I can color treat my hair whenever I'm ready. Want to liven up my ash brown/grey weird hair. I'll be ready for another haircut really soon, so I think I'll just set up to get it colored at the same time. :)
I am admittedly overly obsessive about what I eat/drink now. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I have successfully changed many things about my diet. I'm not super strict about it. Occasionally I do break my rules and eat/drink something that isn't the best choice, but what I'm happy about is that I have changed the habits.
The next thing I want to change is activity and exercise. During the week, I am very active, on my feet all day long. But on days I don't work, wholly cow, if I'm not careful, I could potentially, and history has proven, that I can sit on a couch for 48 hours straight. This has got to change.
I'm excited about the teacher in my building that does Zumba classes in our cafeteria twice a week. As soon as radiation is done, I will be participating in that. And I, of course, keep doing my yoga. But I need more. I've casually been pondering the fit bit, or something like that, that tracks activity, steps, motivates, etc. I've casually pondered a personal trainer too. But that's a habit that has to change, for sure. How much I move.
Another habit I've changed...working too much. Radiation has forced me to prioritize my work differently. I have to drop everything and run at 2:55 to make it to my appointment. So I prioritize, what has to be done at work, what can I do at home, is this item really that important, how can I do this more efficiently. I have to say, I'm rocking it! So when my schedule goes back to normal, I am very confident that I can stick to #workmyproperdutyday. Heck, leaving at 3:30 will feel luxurious. Look at all this extra time I have to get this done!! And now its 3:30pm, I can go participate in Acceptance, Gratitude, and Healing!
Whelp, that's all for today. However, I have another blog post brewing. On the subject of Pinktober. Stay tuned....