Thursday, June 4, 2009

First Radiation

My first radiation was today and it was scary but I got through it by focusing on the visualization of white light. It was over in about 2 minutes. The fun part was meeting the other women who were also there getting radiation for breast cancer around the same time.

There are so many different types of breast cancer. One woman I talked to had a 2cm tumor, stage 1, a lumpectomy and then was getting radiation to her lymph nodes because they found microscopic cells in there. They also gave her the option of having chemo or not and she opted not to. I didn't see anyone else today who had a mastectomy - just lots of lumpectomies. They might have to get longer radiation than I do. Anyway, it will be fun talking to them all everyday over the next 6 weeks.

It seemed like we were all so hungry to hear someone else's story. Especially if they'd already experienced what we were anticipating having to go through in the future. It felt like we are all so in the dark and so isolated. I guess going to a support group would have helped me with this. But after going to that one at the beginning, I decided I didn't want to hear about someone who had another kind of cancer not getting results from her chemo. It was too upsetting for me.

My sister in care called me a couple nights ago and I got to complain to her about my depression after the surgery. I've been somewhat puzzled by it and not sure how to deal with it. Mostly, I've not been able to understand it and wondering why I couldn't get beyond it like I had been able to before while going through chemo. She said something to me that settled me about it and explained the reason behind it so that I was able to set it aside and feel more upbeat today. She said that when she had gotten to the end of her treatment, she'd been so worn down from the length of the treatment and all the different things she'd had to endure that she just felt weary rather than elated to be at the end.

That made so much sense to me. Look at all I've had to go through since October. And it's not over yet. Six weeks of radiation and then Tamoxifen and how will that effect my body? It will be nearly a year since diagnosis when I finally go on the Tamoxifen. This treatment of mine seems like it will never end. At least I've got the worst part over with.

On the bright side, my ortho arm sleeves are feeling better lately. I'm still wearing them at 9:30pm and don't feel like ripping them off. So I'm definitely healing. The swelling is going down.

And the dancing has been working well so far. I've got 2 hours or so of songs on my dancing playlist and have been enjoying the exercise. I even get to stretch my arms by swinging them from side to side to the beat. You would have enjoyed seeing me hopping and jumping with my inner child to Davy Jones singing, "hold on girl wait a little bit longer, hold on girl be a little bit stronger - hold on girl, help is on it's way..." How appropriate.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Dancing Thru Radiation

Ok, well maybe I won't be dancing while I'm getting radiated but I remembered today that dancing is my favorite type of exercise.

Truth be told, I hate exercise.

My dad used to wake me up before elementary school to go jogging with him at the park next to our school. Early in the morning. That might have turned my taste against exercise. I remember crying while jogging, hoping he'd notice I didn't want to be doing this...

Over the years, growing up, P.E. was not my favorite class. Then in high school, I got to take dance instead of P.E. I was in heaven. In my senior year, we had a dance performance where we got to choreograph our own stuff and pick our own music. Believe it or not, the Inna Gadda Devida drum solo was one of the many different types of music that made up our performance. My dad was probably the first person in America in those days to own a movie camera with sound, so luckily I still have a tape of our dress rehearsal.

In college and then later when I had my practice in Hermosa Beach, before kids, I used to go to an Israeli dance class. Luckily, Geoff and I had received a camcorder as a wedding gift and so I got him to video tape an entire class for me. Over the years, I've enjoyed dancing to that video at home, but never consistently.

Since being diagnosed and going thru chemo, I tried dancing to that old Israeli dance video and couldn't. I've been too weak and afraid of hurting my knees. There's a lot of jumping around with that kind of dance.

Walking's ok, as long as I have a friend to walk with. Geoff gave me an ipod for my birthday and I thought it would motivate me but it hasn't so far. I've been wondering if I've just been depressed since the surgery since my exercise commitment has been so lacking.

There's something about this phase of my treatment that is depressing. Chemo was temporary. Now I'm back to my life and it's permanent. I am permanently stuck in my life as a cancer survivor and there isn't anything too scary facing me in the future like before with chemo (except for my ct scans). I now need to hold to the changes I made and make my life different than it was before...I need to eat right, exercise, think right and stay happy. But my arms hurt and things really don't feel over yet. Maybe I'm just now getting a breather to be able to allow myself to be depressed about where I've been and where I'm headed. Maybe now that things are easier, I can let myself just be and not push myself to be up and happy.

I don't know. But I do know that I need to exercise and this foggy weather in the morning has made me not want to go outside. So when Aimee came home, I turned on my iTunes and asked her if she wanted to dance with me...

It was great fun. I became silly and we laughed really hard. I put on her metal hair band that has fake pearls all over it. On my furry head it just looked so stupid. We laughed so hard my tummy hurt. I decided then and there that dancing every day was going to be my next goal to get me thru radiation. Dancing and seeing clients and laughing with my kids will get me through anything.

Tomorrow's the "dress rehearsal" for the radiation. Then on Wednesday I'll have the real deal. I have a new visualization I'm thinking of practicing for that 10 minutes. It looks like the light burst of a sparkler - remember those? They were loads of fun on July 4th. The radiation hits the bad cells and sends out a blast that bursts like a sparkler. The center of the blast kills the bad cells and the burst of white light cleans and energizes the rest of the cells. I read that radiation actually damages all cells but that the canser cells can't repair themselves and end up dying while the healthy cells just repair. So it's white light time. (And you know how I've gone to great lengths to avoid radiation in my life - well here's another time I'm put literally face to face with it!)

I told Geoff that this Friday we're going out for lunch to celebrate the end of my first week of radiation.

Then I'll come home and dance...

BTW, my eyebrows and eyelashes have started to sprout!!!