Once again, I find myself remiss in updating the jebooblog. Probably a good thing, because it means not much is happening on the cancer front 😉
So, the big thing I guess is that rads are DONE! Finished up on 9/9. Rads were by far preferable to chemo, but still unfun. Since the side effects were cumulative, though, it meant that there were only a couple weeks where things got real. My skin got good and red/raw, there was (and continues to be) peeling, but only came close to blistering in one small area under my arm, and that was minor. I continued to slather on all manner of ointments (calendula in beeswax, Bio-oil, and Aquaphor) several times a day. The pain wasn’t all that bad and really only became unbearable when I was practicing yoga (all that friction from flowing…). I asked my rad onc if there was any topical anesthetic she could prescribe just for yoga time (wasn’t about to give up the only thing keeping me sane right now, plus it was helping to keep the damaged muscle/skin stretched and supple), but when I went to pick it up the pharmacist said the manufacturer no longer made it 😦 However, he said, there is an over the counter product that is essentially the same thing. Imagine my surprise when he walked me down the hemorrhoid aisle. But, hey, 5% lidocaine is 5% lidocaine…before each yoga class I religiously applied the ano-rectal cream (do they really need both the anal AND the rectal represented?) and it worked like a charm.
After a while it became uncomfortable to wear my prosthetic, both against the skin and the added pressure on the underlying muscle, so I switched back to the lighter kitted knocker. And when wearing a bra became unbearable, I just stopped wearing any support at all. And when the ointment was ruining my shirts, I said to heck with upper body covering altogether…at first just in the evenings (only a couple awkward moments where I had to rush to put on clothes when someone came to the door) and then eventually during the day (topless teleworking, anyone?). Happy to say now that the skin is just about back to normal and the muscle is getting there. I can really tell if I don’t do yoga every day because the muscle gets tight and painful, but range of motion is on par with my right side once I’m warmed up. Last week concluded occupational therapy for the time being, because she says I’m doing THAT AWESOME. The cording is almost gone, thanks in large part to the cupping (seriously, everyone should own a set of these!).
The fatigue from rads was worse than the other side effects, and similar to that experienced while undergoing chemo…bone tired 24/7 with no real relief 😦 The last week of treatment and the following week or so were rough going. I had been getting some more routine to my sleep schedule in the weeks following surgery, but the radiation-induced fatigue threw it all out of whack again. From what I’m learning, the ongoing insomnia is playing a big role in the worsening depression/anxiety. Still working on finding balance there…diet/exercise, the right concoction of meds, therapy. Dreaming of it for months, I thought getting back to normalcy would be a much smoother transition… It’s not an easy road right now in the mental health department, but I am determined to be well again!!! I can feel that I’m walking the path to recovery, there are just a few more twists and turns than I expected. Thanks for the well wishes, hugs (virtual and actual), and all manner of support people are sending my way. It makes a HUGE difference to know that so many great folks care about little ol’ me ❤ Feeling blessed to have such great family and friends to help stave off the loneliness…it’s been a busy few weeks with fun, social engagements to raise my spirits – One Flesh, Dam Challenge, and a visit from a very dear friend this coming weekend (sooooooo excited, A&J!!!). Bottom line…don’t be a stranger, ya hear?
My hair continues to grow, so much so that I really think it’s time to trim up the back and it might even look like I have this haircut on purpose! We were out at Uncle Bob’s farm a couple weeks ago and I was standing by the hives (like, 15 feet away), just observing their busybeeness. I felt one land on my head and remained still figuring she would find nothing of interest and move on. But no, she got tangled in my cowlick, panicked, and stung me. Silver lining is that my hair was long and thick enough to trap a bee(!), and that’s what I would think about over the next few hours as the site swelled and produced a good and tender lump…woohoo!
Still waiting to hear back out the clinical trial and insurance coverage, though it looks promising that GHC will cover the treatment through Froedtert as an out of network provider. The big question will be whether or not they identify any genetic markers in my tumor that match up with the 14 or so chemo drugs that are part of the trial. So, continual waiting game. I did put my foot down about getting in an honest-to-goodness vacation in the time between ending rads and beginning a new treatment. Going to head out to Richmond to see family (are you ready for me?!?), followed by a few days driving along the coast and staying in airbnbs before heading inland to Charlotte for a conference. And upon my return, I head straight into a Brunner Girl weekend Up North. I am both excited and nervous to travel, the old me (pre shit show Jenn) would not think twice about renting a car and driving around parts unknown all by her lonesome. In fact, she would relish in the delight of the solo adventure. My newfound (or, at least, extremely heightened) anxiety, as well as a growing aversion to being alone, are both rearing their ugly head at the prospect, however. And yet, I’m determined to have a good time, and battling to rediscover and take back a little bit of the old Jenn by going on this trip. I CAN DO THIS!
Peace and love,