Lumpectomy – check
Radiation – check
Medication – on deck
That’s right – Monday was my final day of radiation! I have to admit, it was not a bad experience at all. The seven weeks went by pretty quickly, and the worst thing I suffered was some annoying itching from the burn. The burn wasn’t even painful; it just itched madly. During the last two weeks my energy level took a nosedive, but some days were just fine. It was sort of hit or miss for a while, but the last 4 days were definitely spent lounging.
Seriously though, how could I possibly complain? I did not need chemo, and that was a blessing sent from God to me. Express mail. Postage paid. It’s the brave and unbelievably resilient folks who endure chemotherapy that put me in awe. Medicine has come a long way over the past 10 years or so, but I’m pretty sure chemo is still no walk in the park. My hat is off to each and every survivor who has endured, or is enduring that treatment. You are in my prayers.
After treatment is all finished, some patients experience depression. You might think this odd given the person just finished a rigorous treatment schedule to rid them of cancer. What’s not to be happy about? Well, think about all the activity from diagnosis to completion of treatment. From the moment you hear the words ‘you have cancer,’ you delve into a world of appointments and tests too numerous to list, friends and family asking questions, giving advice, and rallying around you, likely some type of surgery and related recovery, your follow-up treatment (radiation, chemo, and/or other), and if you’re like me, lots and lots of education.
I spent hours upon hours reading online and print. Books, magazines, anything I could get my mitts on. I talked with fellow survivors. When all of that is finished, when you get the congratulatory pat on the back from doctor, family, and friends, and when the streamers are being swept from the floor, you can have feelings of emptiness. What do I do now? How do I fight cancer now? I’m not going to see my doctor every week? A little bit of loneliness, a lot of fear. Honest to God, I wanted to call my radiation oncologist today and give him my vitals over the phone. A little piece of that security blanket is gone.
I get that those feelings creep in. Not everyone has a strong support network, nor does everyone have access to professional counseling services. We (again meaning I) take so much for granted. I have about the best scenario one could ask for (if you have to have cancer), and yet I can feel the fear just waiting to invite itself in. So what’s next for me in fighting my cancer? A couple of things on which I can focus and be positive about are diet and exercise, and these are both key players in cancer prevention. I’ll get into all that in my next post. Medically speaking, next up is 5 to 10 years of medication…so we have plenty of time to discuss that!
And lastly, I’ve been meaning to ask, since 1 of every 8 of us will be diagnosed with breast cancer in our lifetime, are any of you out there survivors? I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment or message me at ChubsLivedHere@gmail.com. Well, it’s a school night on the East Coast…