Wednesday, March 4, 2015

I've got Louisiana in my armpit.

Soooo.... I only have 6 radiation sessions left.  Six!!  It has flown by.  And for the most part, I haven't had too much pain or discomfort.

Until last week.

It was the weirdest thing.  One day, I was fine.  The next day, my armpit/side/former blood grenade spout site hurt like crazy.  I think it finally dawned on my skin that it was being hit daily by radiation, and it got ticked.

The "breast" itself is doing great - just a little pink.  (I put "breast" in quotes because I feel weird referring to it like that.  It's not a breast.  It's a hard balloon filled with fluid, under skin.  There are no ducts.  There is no tissue.)  Above the "breast" - up to the clavicle or so - is kind of rashy-looking and itchy.  My upper left back is red - my masseuse (we'll get into that in a minute) says it's the radiation shooting through my body out to the back skin.  All of these I can deal with.

But what's going on with my armpit - it feels like a wound.  Not a sunburn, like they said.  A wound.  And it's in a bit of a difficult place.  It chafes when I swing my arms while, say, walking.  It chafes when I fold laundry.  It chafes when I bathe Gage.  It chafes when I do dishes.  It's an issue.  I've started kind of walking everywhere and doing everything with my left hand on my hip, a la Daphne:
Perhaps Daphne has been getting radiation in her armpits for the past 40 years and is avoiding chafing.  You never know.

By the way, I don't recommend looking up images of Daphne on the internet.  There are a lot of really sick dudes out there. :(

I've been jogging with a friend, and last week, I had to start jogging with one hand on my hip, elbow kind of flapping in the wind, and one hand swinging front and back like normal.

It's been so painful this week that I haven't been able to jog at all.  Plus my bladder is still causing me some pain, despite $200 medicine that's supposed to make it calm down.  Sigh.  My urologist's diagnosis - irritation - STILL - from having been exposed to Cytoxin, one of the chemo drugs in my cocktail.  He says it should eventually get back to normal.

I hate chemo.  Hate it, but grateful for it.

Anywho, are you ready to see my armpit?  I think it's fascinating, personally:
Did I just lose both of my readers?  Haha!  I hope you're not too grossed out. I just thought you might like to see what radiation does to your skin.  THE PEOPLE NEED TO KNOW!! Those are not droplets of water, my friends.  Those be blisters.  I don't know why they're in a line like that.  The above picture was taken yesterday morning.

This picture was taken this morning:
The blisters are still there, but not in the frame.  I wanted you to get a close-up of the cracking of what used to be just a blackened, sore area.  In the mirror, when I look at it, it looks like the state of Louisiana.  Mentally flip the picture over.  Can you see Louisiana?  I can.  Which is why I'm naming my left armpit Louisiana.  I've never thought of naming my armpits before, but I'm loving the idea.  I'll have to examine my right armpit and come up with something.  Softie?  Happy?  Supple? 

So yeah.  In a teeny bit of pain.  I use this special radiation ointment/cream on it.  I also use these wound dressing thingeys, which provide a tonnn of relief:
They kind of wrinkle and bunch up if I'm doing work around the house, so I save them for when I know I'll be sedate.  I tuck ice packs under my armpit (with protective cloth around them, of course) during the day when I'm cooking, doing chores, etc.  I just kind of hold it on with my upper arm and go about my day.

I have only one more treatment left on Louisiana, and then we'll be done with that part!!  They're going to do the remaining five treatments only around where the scar is on my left "breast."  I think I can handle that okay.  I don't have much feeling in that area, so even if it blisters or cracks, I won't be in much, if any, pain.  I wanted to finish my final armpit session today just to get it OVER with, so that it's not hanging over my head, but my doc wants the armpit to get a rest.  So we'll do five scar area ones (I'm calling them Caterpillars - long, but a little bit thick), and then they'll hit my armpit one last time a week from today.

Then I shall be done with Phase 3.  Phase 1 - Mastectomy.  Check.  Phase 2 - Chemo.  Check.  Phase 3 - Radiation. One week left. Phase 4 - Herceptin, which I've already started.  I go in every three weeks for it - it's an IV that only takes half an hour.  It targets my type of tumor - HER2+.  And it has zero side effects.  I like the sound of that.  I've completed 2 of 17 treatments.

My running buddy and I are thinking of trying to do a half marathon in June.  Eeeee!  I've never done  more than a five-mile relay!  But I so badly want to do it.  It will have been almost a year since my diagnosis, and I just kind of want to feel...empowered.  Like I've really stuck it to cancer and told it who is boss.

Oh, and masseuse - the hospital where they burn Louisiana up offers free Raiki, massage, and acupuncture to cancer treatment patients.  I la-hove this.  My favorite so far is acupuncture.  I basically get to sleep for an hour.  The needles don't hurt one bit.

Kay, my kids are screaming at each other downstairs, so I have to get going.  Pray for Louisiana. :)


Unknown said...

I just love you! Love your humor, the way you see your challenges in life, your testimony and knowledge of the gospel (you have helped me beyond words to being a better CFM teacher!) I just love you! and wish I were your neighbor to run with! I pray for you and Louisiana!

Desirae Callaway said...

Oh my word!! I just found your blog while preparing to substitute for Sunday School tomorrow! First - Thank you - for all the work and great ideas!! Then I wanted to see how you were doing.... Louisiana looks PAINFUL! Wow! I hope she heals soon and hope you get the words "cancer free" soon!! Best wishes to you and God Bless You and your family.

Abby O! said...

You don't know me. I came across your blog while searching for Sunday school help because man am I struggling there. Thank you for sharing your Sunday school awesomeness! I also have just spent 30 min stalking you and your family and want to say how my heart is breaking for you and at the same time buoyed by your strength and positive attitude! I pray the lord will continue to give you strength as you go through this trial. Love, gratitude and happy Sunday!

Megan said...

You are just so amazing to me!! I can't believe you still do house work and everything with all the pain you're in! I'm so glad you're done with radiation by now!! I hope Louisiana heals up fast! :) Love ya!!

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