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Radiation Therapy Sucks

Today is the first day of my Aunt’s radiation treatments. I guess I didn’t really understand what all that entailed until she explained it to me. Some people, sadly enough, are well aware of all of the ins and outs of cancer. What all of the different treatments include. I am just learning about a lot of it now. I thought in the past I had heard others talk about radiation pills that target a certain area? I don’t know, maybe I am mistaken and in all honesty, I haven’t done my research. Truth is, I don’t need to google one more horrific thing about cancer and illness. Dr. Google has scared the shit out of me more than enough times when I am contemplating mine, my aunt’s or my children’s illnesses. I know better, but I cannot help myself. This is where we have all gone wrong. Remember the days when we would ask by word of mouth and experience instead of looking on the internet? Yeah. I don’t remember it that much either. Times were simpler and sometimes I wish we could go back.

radiation, radiation therapy, radiation cocktail

So, for those of you, like me, that are clueless about the experience here is a little rundown of what it will entail for her. My Aunt had her simulation last week. When the procedure has to be practiced, it is pretty hardcore.

They secure you on this table that adjusts your body to make sure that they are getting the most precise treatment in the targeted areas. I chose the word secure because it sounds uncomfortable and uncompromising. This is not comfortable. As you can imagine. If you have anxiety or maybe you have never had anxiety, I think this is something that may be anxiety-in

ducing for you.

Once the technician has found the exact way that they would like your body to be positioned they mark you. My aunt said that they are permanent markings like tattoos that she will have for the rest of your life. This is ironic because my Aunt absolutely hates tattoos and when I got mine she just made a noise and had no comment. I am not sure if she was teasing me or if this is really the truth, but you don’t ask. I am learning that you only let those going through something like this, tell you what they want to. This is not just a lesson that I have learned from my Aunt, but this is something that I am learning from the inside. Now that I am too a cancer patient, but just of a different measure. Too many questions can be exhausting. Sometimes questions or statements can be heard or interpreted the wrong way and in turn, upset the patient. I definitely get this now. One day you may, too or maybe you already do. Choose your words carefully.

Okay, so after they have you adjusted you have to be perfectly still. I believe it is for 30 minutes. This will be repeated for 5 weeks Monday through Friday.

While you are laying perfectly still there is a timer that will let you know when it is time to begin the radiation. The timer will count down from 15, I believe and once the timer ends you need to hold your breath for 30 seconds. If you are unable to hold your breath for that period of time you have to hit a button clicker with your finger. This button is the control for your radiation. If you are not holding your breath while the radiation is going, then it could damage your heart. Yup. You heard that right. It could damage your heart. Remember how I mentioned anxiety-inducing? Geesh. I would have to take ten Xanax just to walk in the door. Plus, how do you stay still when you are shaking so bad…that would be me. This stuff freaks me the F out.

radiation, radiation procedure, heart, anxiety with cancer

When my Aunt told me about all of this, she was not sure if she would be going through with the treatment. It was a little much and was even giving her anxiety (if you remember, she is the same woman that went into the operating room without sedatives, so this is big).

When I texted her this morning to see how it went. She said the treatment was today. I was under the assumption that she was going early in the morning, but I may have had my facts mixed up, I am a bit scatterbrained (well, even more so than before). I am assuming this means she will be going through with it. She wants to make sure that she is done with treatment before my cousin’s graduation. She will be done the week before.

Did I mention she plans on working full-time through-out all of her treatments? How about the fact that the actual treatment will leave actual “exit wounds” (these are the words that the doctors used) on her back. There will be burnt and she is told that she needs to lather up with lots and lots of lotions like Aquafor.

If you could please pray for my Aunt through this process, it would be much appreciated. I have not even begun to mention the lack of support that she is receiving fromher job and the way that she has been treated. Somewhere that she has been giving her loyal service for some 17 years. I could spit. I know she wouldn’t want me to write about it, so I won’t.

Update: It is now at least six weeks later and my Aunt is now done with her treatment. To say it was intense is an understatement.

My Aunt and I went into another room and she showed me all of her war scars. Truly, it is a war with your body. She hadn’t finished with the final week and I think that week really did her in. She looks like she has a super intense sunburn and the worst of it is under her armpits. She said that last week was when her skin started bubbling up and it actually felt better when it would peel off because then it wouldn’t be pulling as much and hurting. Ouch. I won’t go into too much more detail, but you can only imagine the pain and discomfort in wearing undergarments, clothing and working all day.

I am proud to say that she is done with the chemo and radiation part of her therapy. She is now about to start her hormone chemotherapy with a pill. They are telling her that it will be at least seven years that she will be taking the drug and she was very unhappy to hear that. However, she was told that if she decides to not take it the chances of the breast cancer coming back are eighty percent and if she does take it, it is twenty percent.


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