The time between
I was still swollen and still had that lump where he took out the tumor. Putting an ice pack didn’t help much and actually made the lump tenderer and kind of achy. Other than that, the incisions were healing. I did lose feeling under my left arm from the surgery. It was kind of a weird sensation. There was a chance I would not regain the feeling. They warned that might happen and if it does you should not use a regular razor to shave since you won’t feel it if you cut yourself. I’m sure the blood running down would be an indication that something was wrong….Call me a “Wild Woman”, I threw caution to the wind and used a regular razor (very carefully). I wasn’t going to buy an electric razor for 1 arm pit, and I might get the feeling back. I didn’t actually shave under that arm until the incision was fully healed. That and the fact that I could see the hair sticking out from my sleeve (yes, it was a short sleeve shirt) was an indication it was time. I may be a “Wild Woman” but I’m not totally reckless (a note on that, any kind of injury in that area, even a small cut, could be a trigger for lymphedema). I was back to work, but I was still on Family Medical Leave which meant I could take the days/time off I needed for all the doctor’s appointments and follow up visits. I finally had a start date and treatment plan for the radiation. I was going to start the middle of September. I would have 7 weeks of radiation 5 times a week. I had to go out on disability again for that. Luckily the company I work for had a decent disability insurance plan. After the first week they covered 6 weeks at full pay. Their medical insurance plan, however, was a nightmare to deal with. I will have more on that later. Trying to deal with insurance issues while navigating cancer is something a person should not have to deal with and something that needs to be fixed.
There were things that needed to be done before I started radiation. I/we (my husband wanted to come too) had to do a walk thru with the radiation team. You meet the radiation team and they walk you thru what the process will be. Where you come in, where you change (you guessed it again…into a gown), where your locker is (oooo, I get my own locker), where you wait for treatment. They also took us to the radiation area, showed us the machines, how they work, where I would be for the treatments. While we were in the radiation area Terry turned to them and asked,” So is this going to make her glow?” They just kind of looked at each other, they didn’t know if he was serious or not. They told him, “No, this doesn’t make her glow”. I think just in case he was serious. From there I had to get my tattoos. Yup, cancer comes with your very own set of tattoos. Because you go in everyday for so many weeks they actually tattoo marks on your body so they can line up the radiation zapper thingy (not a medical term) correctly. This helps them send the radiation to the exact area(s) each time. I got 3 blue dots. I got one on the side under each arm and one right in between my boobs. I always wanted to get a tattoo (though maybe not this way). Once, I even went to a tattoo parlor, picked out a tattoo with the help of 4 girlfriends and almost made it to the chair. They (the tattoo people) said they couldn’t do it at that time. Something about too much alcohol consumed while doing the “Duvall Crawl” and the tattoo running. We were in Key West. Anyway, after getting those three blue dots, which actually hurt like hell, I realized I would not have made it through an entire tattoo. All that was left was to decide what time of day I would be coming in. You come in at the same time every day. I am a morning person so I thought morning would be good. That would give me the rest of the day to, you know, do stuff. Silly girl, I actually thought I would be doing stuff. Well, maybe more hopeful that silly. While we were there I asked about our vacation. Terry and I went to the 1,000 islands every year for a week at the end of September. We stay in a cabin on Wellesley Island. We bring the Girls and our boat and just hang out for the week. It is/was my favorite trip. I looked forward to it every year. We were told, “No can do. You can’t miss any of the treatments”. Wait, what? We already had the cabin reserved; we did it 9 months ago. They said we could work something out for a long weekend. They would get me in for the 1st morning appointment on Friday and the last evening appointment for Monday. That’s the best they could do. I was dismayed to say the least. In my mind I had already given up my summer to the cancer, now I had to give up my favorite vacation. It never crossed my mind that the radiation had to be consecutive like that. Terry could see I was upset. He said not to worry, we would figure it out. He said getting the treatments and stopping the cancer was more important. I knew he was right, but it’s hard not feel like you no longer have control of anything in your life. Cancer had taken the steering wheel and was not letting go. I felt helpless. That was not a good feeling and I didn’t let that last for long. Ok, I could either be a passive passenger on this ride or I could fight back (kind of). I decided I would not be passive. I did have a choice. I always have a choice. Maybe not the options I wanted to choose from, but it was “my” choice. We would make do with the long weekend and stick to the radiation treatments. That would better kick the shit out of the cancer. I may not have been holding the steering wheel in this situation, but I was still in the driver’s seat. My husband had always said, “The only thing you truly have control of in life is your attitude”. Attitude can be powerful and a positive one makes all the difference (don’t tell him I said he was right). Radiation treatments were on the calendar. I had some things to do before they started, little did I know what that was going to include……..