I see my radiation doctor next week, checking in on my skin after radiation treatments have finished (great! some slight discoloration of the skin, but essentially back to normal!).
I see my surgeon next month, checking in on the healing of my incisions (great! aside from being slightly itchy sometimes, no issues!)
I saw a physical therapist this morning, to receive information regarding Lymphadema.
Lymphedema is a potential side effect of breast cancer surgery and radiation therapy that can appear in some people during the months or even years after treatment ends.
Lymph is a thin, clear fluid that circulates throughout the body to remove wastes, bacteria, and other substances from tissues. Edema is the buildup of excess fluid. So lymphedema occurs when too much lymph collects in any area of the body. If lymphedema develops in people who’ve been treated for breast cancer, it usually occurs in the arm and hand, but sometimes it affects the breast, underarm, chest, trunk, and/or back.
Why does lymphedema happen? As part of their surgery, many people with breast cancer have at least two or three lymph nodes removed from under the arm (sentinel lymph node biopsy), and sometimes many more nodes (axillary lymph node dissection). If the cancer has spread, it has most likely moved into to those underarm lymph nodes first because they drain lymph from the breast. Many people also need radiation therapy to the chest area and/or underarm. Surgery and radiation can cut off or damage some of the nodes and vessels through which lymph moves. Over time, the flow of lymph can overwhelm the remaining pathways, resulting in a backup of fluid into the body’s tissues.I'm not experiencing any issues, but its recommended to go get the education, and measured for a prevention sleeve. That way, when I fly in an airplane or do any excessive activity with my right arm, I can put on the sleeve to prevent any issues. Or if I do have issues in the future, they have the knowledge and everything on file to proceed forward in treating it. She told me I am her favorite kind of patient. Easy. Little issues. And as a result of going through this tremendous upheaval in my life, open to following all the directions, getting the education, and making the changes needed to proceed forward. yep, that's me. The good student. haha....
And because I had a MRI recently (Aug. before surgery), my oncologist said I don't need any tests anytime soon. I will do a bi-lateral mammogram in January or February to get baseline data about all the breast changes as a result of surgery, radiation, etc. And then, I think she told me I will just need to get annual mammograms to both sides every July or so.
Basically just monitoring from here on out!
I got this in the bag, people!
Its a surreal time for me right now. My Thanksgiving holiday break started today, and there was a short time when I wasn't sure (in the dark times of initial testing, and waiting on answers) that I didn't know if I would make it to see the next thanksgiving holiday. My previous self would normally enter this time somewhat grumpy and disgruntled by the cold weather, and long dark nights. But this year, I've decided to change that. The coming of cold weather and long dark nights means that I survived!
This brings me to my next topic: Hygge.
More to come. :)