Monthly Archives: October 2013

Hair! and 13 to go


My hair is growing like a weed.  These eyebrows are mine, all mine!!  No enhancements necessary.  I have lashes that are now long enough for mascara. People like to rub my head, like Buddha’s stomach.  I hope all their wishes come true.

I have 13 radiation treatments left.  20 completed.  Every fifth day of radiation I have x-rays.  These are taken and then reviewed by the radiation oncologist to be sure that what is being radiated should be radiated and what should not be radiated isn’t.  After the second set of x-rays I had an 8 mm adjustment.  I really don’t like x-ray day.  The position that I need to be put into for treatment is extraordinarily uncomfortable.  I have to stay in that position longer on x-ray day.  My arms ache like mad and my hands fall asleep.  Did I say how much I dislike x-ray day?  But, better safe than sorry.

I have become quite friendly with the woman who has radiation therapy before me. Her name is Jody and it is good to be able to talk to someone who is going through what I am going through.  We started radiation on the same day and we will finish on the same day.  The radiation techs think it is great when patients get to know each other and support each other.  Actually, the techs are pretty darn great themselves.

For the last four weeks, only one of  the two linear accelerators (radiation machine) has been in use as they are being updated.  This has resulted in extended hours at radiation oncology.   Starting Nov 6, both machines will be in use which will result in a different appointment time.  When the radiation techs redid the treatment schedule, they made sure that Jody and I have appointments adjacent to each other. It is their thoughtfulness (and their humor) that makes having to go to treatment every day that much easier.

Mile 12

I am mile 12.  When I found out I was mile 12 I cried.  I was humbled to be asked to be mile 12. Being mile 12 was suppose to help my friend Nicki but instead I think it helped me even more than it helped her.

Last week Nicki sent an e-mail out to ask for some help from her friends. Nicki was going to run a 1/2 marathon in Victoria, BC on Sunday, October 13.  She has been dealing with some very serious health problems over the last year as well as other life issues.  As Nicki wrote in her e-mail :

” …I have stubbornly continued to run. It’s felt important to me to run and race because I’ve told myself that, if I can run, I can’t be “that” sick. And, even though my health has been challenging and frustrating, it hasn’t gotten the best of me.”

She was telling her coach how she thought  that she might not be able to complete that race. This is what her coach said:

“So this is what you need to do: Use this as a race to focus on the good in your life. Pick 13 positive things or people and dedicate a mile to each of them. Use the energy they will send or give you to get through that mile. Don’t worry or focus on the time, it is not important this time around. You are doing the race because you love running and the race atmosphere. It is a freedom different from other things in your life and brings out your strength and determination. You win by getting to the finish line. So clear your thoughts, focus on you and your loved ones. Make me one of your miles and I will send so much energy you will float to the next miles before you know it. Draw in energy from the greenery around you and there will be plenty of it along this beautiful route. Keep up, not down and know there are a lot of us supporting you.”

That is what Nicki did and she chose me as mile 12:

“Mile 12. Loretta. Because you are one of the strongest, most determined, bad-asses I know. When I need to feel strong, I think of you because you inspire me.”

Why you ask, am I writing about this?  I think this is a wonderful idea for anyone going through chemo and/or radiation.   A many of you know, before I started treatment I was given a beautiful gift of bracelets, flowers and words of encouragement. I have one bracelet for each week I was having chemo (20) and each radiation session (33).

53 bracelets to remind me of everyone sending me positive thoughts.  Well wishes written on slips of colorful paper helping me get through these difficult months.  I put the bracelets in a basket that also contains all the words of encouragement.  I like to randomly pull one out and read it.  The words and the bracelets give me strength.

Nicki completed her 1/2 marathon.  I am on the way to completing my treatment. Never underestimate the power of positive energy and the love of friends and family.  Never hesitate to ask for their help.



Snickers, Cheetos and Peach Fuzz

The last three weeks have been mentally and emotionally difficult.   I am not sure why. They just were.  I obsessed over the amount of lung being radiated.  I cried after the radiation simulation.  I had to come up with a couple of “Plan B”s for the house renovation.  I was talking with a friend and told her that I sometimes just felt like crying and eating Snickers and Cheetos.

On Monday, I had radiation simulation.  This is where they position you on the table using the mold that was made a couple of weeks ago.  I had to lay in the mold with my arms over my head and not move for about 30 minutes.  It was not a pleasant experience.  I got another tattoo (this was a surprise as I wasn’t told that it was even a possibility) and the entire area to be radiated was outlined in ink.  They really like to draw on you in radiation oncology.   X-rays were taken to be sure everything lined up correctly and to double check that the radiation plan was good to go.

After the simulation was finished, I was told to look in the mirror at the outlined area so I would know where to put the aloe vera type gel given help with radiation burns.  I stood in the dressing room and the reality of my situation got the best of me.  I cried.  It seemed like an awfully large area.  It is a quarter of my torso.  There was ink everywhere.

On Tuesday I had my first radiation treatment.  I was able to sit down with the radiation oncologist and discuss my lung obsession.  She patiently showed me the cat scan films and we went over each picture.  She showed me what was being radiated and the dosage.  Yes, a good portion of my lung will be exposed to radiation but only a very small bit will get a large dose of radiation.  I am not so much obsessed now.  Just mildly concerned.  My daughter-in-law, Rachel, was able to go with me.  Today I went for the second radiation treatment (only 31 more to go!)  My sister, Christine is visiting for a week so she will be my radiation buddy for a while.

The house renovation “Plan B”‘s turned out just fine.  Sometimes a “Plan B’ is better then the “Plan A.”  We now have a toilet in the master bathroom and the tub is almost ready to be moved from our bedroom into it’s proper place in the bathroom.  The tile and paint are finished and the vanity top will be installed tomorrow.

As to the Snickers and Cheetos…  While I did have Cheetos at a dinner party some weeks ago, I have not eaten them since.  Also, no Snickers have been purchased or consumed.   So that brings us to the peach fuzz.  Below is a picture of my current hair style and you can see the fuzz for yourself.