October 10, 2006
I apologize for taking so long to write an update. I spent a chunk of yesterday at St. Joe’s Hospital Radiation Oncology department getting prep-ed for my radiation treatments that are scheduled to begin November 1st. I was going to start Oct. 30th, but they are giving me a few extra days so my new insurance co-pay year kicks in to pay for it. That means less out of pocket medical expenses for us.
Yesterday I was oriented to the process and briefed on what to expect. The main concern they have is what the radiation will do to my skin and how to handle that. They told me yesterday that it is very individual as to how tired people get doing the treatment. Some do fine the entire time and some get tired the last few weeks, some get pretty tired sooner. My own radiation oncologist thought I could expect a lot of fatigue because of just coming off of chemo, but the folks I met yesterday who do the treatments said it really varies. That was good news. We can pray that I don’t experience the extreme fatigue.
Yesterday’s appointment also included lining me up on the machine to determine with a CAT scan exactly how I will be placed for radiation. It needs to be very exact so that the radiation beams or fields go where they need to go, and miss my heart and most of my left lung. To make sure it is the same each time, they gave me 3 tiny black dot tattoos- one on my middle, one on my left and one on my right side. Since it involved what felt like a big needle, it was my least favorite part of the day. They have decided to do 4 fields of radiation which will take about 15 minutes each of the 30 times I go.
The doctor told me the 4th field would likely cause lymphodema in my left arm due to the scar tissue that will form as a result of the radiation. I would love to not have to deal with that, but would like us to pray for the Lord’s perfect will to be done. Lymphodema is a swelling of the arm (or other extremity) due to lymphatic fluid going into, and getting stuck and built up there. After the arm swells, it is a complicated process of massage and wrapping the arm to keep the build up from getting severe or causing infection- for the rest of your life. It is an expensive and time consuming condition and I would not like to take the time the Lord gives me to deal with it if I don’t have to. The doctor told I have at least a 30% chance of developing it within the next 1-2 years.
My blood is still testing low and high on some things. For instance, my white count is low even though I did the Neupogen shots to boost it after my last chemo. My oncologist told me he would watch and maybe have me do another 5 days of the shots if it looked like I needed them. I have emailed him and am expecting an answer later today. Pray he would have wisdom about whether I should do them. They would make me hurt in my muscles, hips, bones and back for a few days, BUT I would have more energy and better white counts for the trip I plan to take with Jenni, my 17 year old, to see PA and NY colleges October 22-29. I would like to start the shots this Friday, if I do end up doing them, so I can be over the side effects in time for our trip.
How am I doing now? Many are asking. I am tired, but am getting through about half a day before I need to rest. My feet are hurting more now with the neuropathy my oncologist told me I might get during the 2 months after finishing the Taxitere chemo. Me feet feel like someone hit them with a stick and then also are tingling. They worsen during the day, so I am ready to get off my feet by the time evening rolls around. I am having so many hot flashes I can’t count them anymore. I just wear layers and peel on and off the outer ones all day and night. That is really a bother, but not painful in any way.
My breast cancer support group met last week and we had a fantastic speaker. He is a doctor who does acupuncture and explained that to us and why it helps to fight cancer. Also my friends shared their radiation experiences with me so I could know what to expect. Thanks to any and all of you who supported the Race for the Cure on Sunday here in Denver. They had 26,000 participate this year. I pray that the money raised will help find a cure for this disease. Wouldn’t that be fantastic?
I finally finished my prayer letter which I am preparing for mailing today. Greg is leaving Friday for a 2 week time in the mountains, and Jesse will join him while Jenni and I are on our trip east. Their goal is to have good quality time together and hopefully bring home some organic meat for us. (Did I say that politically correct?) So prayers for Greg’s safety and for the Lord to “recharge his batteries” would be appreciated. Thank you for reading all of this and for your prayers and expressions of love.I am posting this on the blog as well. nancyupdate.blogspot.com God bless you! Nancy Fritz