Thursday, January 29, 2015


Man, I love that song.  It would be the coolest song EVER to choreograph. 

Soooo, I started radiation this week.  AND my Herceptin IV!  My new oncologist told me it would be okay to do them concurrently. 

And my visit with him was really...odd.  He told me, right off the bat, that sometimes he says things that are in his head, and then he realizes later that he should have filtered these things.  I assured him that I wouldn't mind.  As he talked to me about my cancer and treatment, etc., he started talking about how he's on this big existential search for a way to quiet his mind and prioritize his life.  (No, I don't know how we got from the subject of cancer to the subject of his existential search.)  He tried meditation for awhile; he studied Buddhism for awhile; now he's reading the Old Testament.  I got the impression that he hasn't ever been a religious person.  He told me that he was struggling with the Old Testament.  I asked him what book he was in.  He said he was in Leviticus.  I laughed and said, "No wonder you're struggling!  That's all stuff about how to build the ark of the covenant and things like that!"  I told him that, in my humble Kar opinion, he could safely skip Leviticus - that he wouldn't miss anything crucial.  However, he's determined to continue reading every word.  Good on him.

He forgot to have me put on a gown, and when it came time to examine my chest, he goes, "Well, go ahead and lift up your shirt and show me your boobs." It was a little disconcerting.  I mean, I know that they aren't real boobs, but I still feel a sense of modesty about them.  And I felt like I was on Girls Gone Wild.  He didn't even blink an eyelash, but it was a little awkward for me.  Lack of a filter, indeed.  He's just quirky.  One of those brilliant, quirky guys.

Herceptin is only once every three weeks and has minimal to zero side effects.  Herceptin targets my type of cancer, which is called HER2+.  It's really, really complicated to explain, and I'm not very sciencey, so just hope over here to learn about HER2+ and here to learn about Herceptin.

So I went in yesterday to do my first herceptin treatment.  It was in the chemo infusion room - the room where people get chemo shot into them - which made me have uncomfortable flashbacks.  But everyone is so brave and so positive.  Cancer People are the best!!

The nurses accessed Portia, my port, and hooked me up to a drip bag of herceptin.  I was only supposed to be there for an hour, but with a little education session with the doc and other delays (it was really, really busy), I was there a whopping 3 1/2 hours!!  Mama mia.  But it didn't hurt, I sat and read my book, I chatted with my neighbor in the chair on the right, and it went quickly.  So far, I haven't had any side effects.  I'll keep going in every three weeks for a year.

Radiation.  Sigh, radiation.  What a pain in the butt.  My first session was Monday, and it took longer than the other sessions will.  Just getting everything set up, etc.  My body mold is as hard as a ROCK.  Pretty uncomfortable.  But it's important for me to be in the same exact position every time.  A special light from the ceiling shoots the grid down onto my body, and they line me up with my tattoos.  They also have lasers on each side of me so that I'm lined up on my sides and not, like, tilting too much to one side or whatever.  They use a sheet that's under me to scoot me all around, and I lie on a special table that moves in all directions to put me in just the right spot.  Once they have everything lined up, they do a CAT scan.  Every time.  As I lie on the special table, these four arms of a machine that is behind my head rotate around me to do the CAT scan.  Each arm looks different.  One looks like Baymax's head. 

One looks like the light that the dentist adjusts above your face when he's working on your teeth.  And two of them look like waffle irons.  I can see a green light on my left "breast" (I use quotations, because I feel weird referring to it like that) as the arms slowly rotate around me.

Then the ladies come back in and put this small, sticky mat on the right side of my left breast.  Then they leave the room and shoot the radiation at it, through this sticky mat thingey.  I want to ask what everything is for, but I get the impression that they're in a hurry and just want to get me done and get the next person in.  So no, I don't know what the sticky mat is or what it's for.  I obvi can't see anything when the radiation is shooting.  The only way I can tell that it's being released is that the Dentist Light Arm is lined up to shoot at that side of my breast, and it buzzes.  For about 7 seconds or so.

Then the ladies come back in, move the sticky mat to the left side of my breast, the Dentist Light Arm rotates to that side, the ladies leave, and it shoots me for 7 more seconds.  Buzzzz.  Then the ladies come back in, take away Mr. Sticky Mat, the arm rotates to right above my left breast, the ladies leave again, and it shoots straight down at me.  No sticky mat.  For a good 20 seconds or so.

I mean, it's really not a huge pain in the butt; it's just obnoxious to have to go in every single dang weekday to do it.  And after the first day, they had some issues with my right boob getting in the way of the radiation thingey when it's aiming at the right side of my left boob.  I was lined up the same exact way; everything was the same; and suddenly, my right boob is in the way.  They kind of fudged it that second day, just having me tilt to the right a bit, but that afternoon, I had to go to my plastic surgeon and have him take 120 cc's out of my right boob.  So it's now a size A, and it's so soft.  It almost - ALMOST - feels like a real boob!  It's all loose and weird-looking now.  And there is a glaring difference between the two boobs.  But I'll so whatever they need to get it just right.

However, yesterday, with my newly-deflated right boob, it was still in the way!!!  Ugh.  So here's what they did, and what they're going to do from now on - they used athletic tape, attaching one end on the left side of my right boob, and attaching the other end to the table.  They're going to tape my boob out of the way from now on.  It's weird, but no, I don't want my right side radiated if I can help it.  So I'll succumb to the indignity of it. :)  As Gordon on Thomas the Train would say, "Ohhhhh, the indignity!!!"

Gage really likes Thomas the Train.

Ya know, being taped to a table reminds me of a really funny story.  Wanna hear it?  I knew you would!! 

So.  I was pregnant with Dylan, and somebody rear-ended me while I was at a stop sign.  I don't know.  Some young dumb fart.  It really wasn't a big deal, but the ambulance dudes wanted me to go to the hospital to get checked out, to make sure everything was alright with Dylan.  They had me lie on this hard, yellow board, on my back.  And they taped me to it.  My head, my feet, my legs, above my belly, below my belly...  I was like, "Um, guys, this is really unnecessary.  My neck hurts a little, but I really don't think you need to tape me to a board..."  However, they insisted, and I figured I could just deal with it during the ride to the hospital, and then they would untape me and let me lie on my side on a cushioned gurney or something. 

Oh no.  Once we got there, they wouldn't untape me.  They just set my board on one of those cushioney gurneys!  And I had to wait, like, three hours!  Ben was there with me, which I was grateful for.  After awhile, I started to get really nauseated, because Dyl was getting bigger, and you get sick when you lie on your back after the first couple of months.  The baby rests on an artery or a vein, or something like that, when you're on your back.  And it makes you really nauseated.  So I called out to the nurses and asked to be untaped, telling them that I couldn't be on my back for very long because I was pregnant.  They still didn't want to untape me until a doctor could examine me, so they just tilted my board to one side and put rolled up towels underneath the other side, to keep me tilted.  I kid you not.  As the time dragged on, I slid a little bit to the side that was facing down, the tape unable to hold my weight very well, but still securely fastened.  It was ridonk.  They eventually untaped me.  But it was really awful.  Haha!

So.  That's my story about being taped to a board, and that's my story about radiation.

I haven't felt any side effects of radiation.  My skin on that side sometimes itches, but I've been vigilant about putting the special lotion on it twice a day.  I can only use all-natural deodorant on that side.  Normal deodorant has aluminum in it, which messes with the radiation, I guess.  I can only use a very mild bar soap, like Dove, when I wash myself.  Body washes have alcohol in them, which is very drying.  I have to wash my natural deodorant and lotion off my left side four hours before each radiation treatment, also. 

They say that, in about a week, I'll start looking red, like I have a sunburn.  By the time I'm done, I may have blistering, as well as the sunburn thing.  But honestly, none of this will be as hard as chemo was.

Strangely, I got really sick the night after my first radiation.  My radiologist says that what I have been experiencing (stomach flu-like symptoms) isn't ever a side effect of the radiation.  I must have just caught a stomach flu bug.  Again.  It's kicking my butt, you guys.  Not as much as that one in December, but still.  Let's just say that I'm pumped full of Immodium right now.  I'm terrified that I'm going to poop my pants on the radiation table one of these days...

Oh, and in other news, dude.  I got a calling.  As first counselor in the Relief Society presidency. What in the what???  I couldn't be more surprised.  I'm brand new!  I don't know anyone!!  (Oh, and if you don't know what I'm talking about, the relief society is the women's organization of my church.)  And I can't remember anyone's names because of my stupid chemo brain!!  The Bishop told me he wants me to really ease into it.  He knows that the radiation might make me really tired, and he says that I should only go to meetings, conduct meetings, etc. when I feel okay.  So I won't do anything really major or full-fledged until my health improves.  It's nuts.  But I'm excited to work with the lady that's the RS president.  She is so fantastic.  A bit irreverant.  And about half as tall as me.  I just love her.  She wrote me letters the whole time I was in Idaho.  What a babe. 

Oh, and last piece of news - my hair is growing in!  A little weirdly.  A bunch of blonde peach fuzz on top, and darker hairs on the sides and back. 

So basically, I'm going to be looking like Friar Tuck pretty soon.  Oh, the indignity!!  Naw, I don't really care.  I'm just excited that my body is showing some signs of returning to normal.  Though my blood pressure is still really low.  Humph.  Boy, am I sick of that. And of the other gross things I can't talk about.  It's been six weeks since my last chemo!!  And I'm still having these side effects.  It's just crazy.

1 comment:

Mindy H. said...

I hope the radiation treatments get to be less of a pain/hassle/annoyance quickly. Also, I would LOVE to see a dance choreographed to Radioactive. You should get right on that as soon as you get some free time... so in about 12 years, or so? I am so happy your hair is coming back! Am I am so excited for the sisters in your ward! You are going to be such an AMAZING Relief Society leader! Your testimony and sense of humor and ability to empathize are going to bless soooooooo many lives!

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