Week Three of Radiation

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Well I have completed two weeks radiation and have three to go.  I thought I would show you these masks that are for patients who have radiation up near there head area.  My friend had a Basal cell carcinoma on hear ear and had to have radiation.  They make a mask especially for you and it is bolted onto the table to keep you still while you have treatment.  I am only glad I don’t have to have that, cause even though they have holes all over and you can see out, I am sure I would feel claustrophobic.  Our neighbour at our previous house, had throat cancer and had a mask for radiation, when we went to his fiftieth birthday party, they had made his mask into a garden light.

When I came out of my session of Radiation, which only takes ten minutes, most of this time is taken up by them adjusting and moving you to align your measurements up with what is on the computer.  I am lying there with my arms above my head and can see fluorescent numbers and lines on my chest, with nurses calling measurements to each other.  It must be like being on a submarine and I expect one of them to shout, ‘Fire number one torpedo’ any second.

On Friday I came out of the Radiation room and headed for the cubicle to get changed the lady waiting to go next turned out to be Julie a fellow Breast Cancer Patient from Secret Harbour who I have chatted to through my blog.  It was lovely to put a face to a name and we had a quick chat before she had to dash off to be zapped.

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Every few weeks I give my wig a wash.  It is really simple, you just use a small amount of special synthetic wig shampoo in cold water, being very gentle as if you were washing lingerie, then rinse thoroughly and spray with the leave in conditioner.  I heard you could use baby shampoo and fabric softener, but, that didn’t work as well.  The good stuff brings it up beautifully and after a couple of washes it isn’t all shiny any more and looks much more natural.  Anyway, hold it upside down while it is wet and give it a couple of flicks, then hang it upside down once again on a hanger by the thin wire hook, and let it dry overnight.  In the morning you have a nice clean wig.

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I had a small wedding on the beach this morning for Stevhnie and Martin who came down from Christmas Island.  Their guests were family who flew in from South Africa, and of course Perth put on a beautiful sunny day for them.  It was just perfect.

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The Good the Bad and the Ugly

So we will start with the Ugly – so far I have lost four fingernails. which looks really gross, I will have to think about stick on ones for the wedding I am doing on Monday.  Apparently it is called Onycholysis and none of the things I have read have said whether they grow back or not, just depressing things like your nails might not grow as long as they used to.

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The Good – This beautiful gift arrived from Comfort Quilts today, they make these lovely packs for Cancer patients containing a quilt, a beanie, and a knitted scarf and mine came in the mail today.  It just blows me away that there are such unselfish people out there that give up their time and resources to bless those of us that are going through a Cancer journey.  Really it is all anonymous, so they are just doing it to be a blessing not for the glory.  It really brightened up my day.

Also good, I had a gardening lady from ‘Phone a Mum’ to come and weed for me today.  The neighbours all around us are very garden proud so I am sure have been disappointed with we rental people next door to them.  While you are on Chemo Therapy you are not allowed to garden – too bugsy so it has gone to rack and ruin over the past months. We came back from Radiation to find some really lovely looking garden beds.  I will need to have her come again next week to get the lot done, it is a big job.

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I have disobeyed the rules and done a tiny bit of potting in my kitchen, to utilise the beautiful aqua crate which was part of my birthday present from Hayley and Ben. The window sill is really sunny and my Basil and Parsley should grow there nicely although they need a bigger pot.

The Bad – The cough I have had for the last week and a half, finally culminated in me having a temperature and shivering on Sunday night,  because chemo patients are a high Neutropenia risk we are told to go straight to hospital if our temp reaches 38 degrees, it crept up to 38.2 and I thought oh! no, if I go up there they will keep me in then it will mess up Radiation, and anyway, it is pouring with rain and I feel too sick to get ready to go.  I took some panadol and drank some fluids, prayed for myself and went to bed.  My temperature came down overnight and woke up this morning feeling much better and wondering what it was all about.  I did go to my doctor and get some antibiotics so things should pick up in the next few days.

It is hard to slow down, when life is so busy.

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Meanwhile, Allan went to the Chemist to get my pills and was talking to the lady in the health food shop who gave him some delicious tea for men to drink. If this isn’t grass clipping I don’t know what is!!

Eight Radiation sessions down seventeen to go.

Have a great week everyone.

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Radiation Week One

Four Radiation sessions down and 21 to go, and I am sure it will go fast.  The first day there was a mix up so I ended up being there for and hour and forty minutes, which wouldn’t be bad as I am used to waiting at hospitals and don’t expect to be on time, but, we were babysitting so Allan had Beau in another waiting room as we hadn’t expected to be long.  He kept himself entertained playing games on my phone and reading the magazines in the waiting room.  He was very well behaved.

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Yesterday was my birthday, so the girls in Radiation gave me some Vegemite chocolate to try.  Yeww! that is weird. Then Allan took me to lunch at the Steel Tree in Baldivis, which was better than the chocolate.

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The family came for dinner and Sarah and Halle skyped from Sydney during the festivities.  We just need a few of the older granddaughters who don’t have cars to get organised and we will have a huge crowd.  There is something Mothers love about having all their family under one roof at the same time. I made trays of Lasagne, Potato Bake and Salad, and Hayley bought a yummy Hummingbird Cake.   I always feel very spoilt on my birthday.

It is not until you get involved in the Cancer World that you realise how many people are being churned through the system.  Radiation Oncology at Fiona Stanley Hospital is flat-out every week day, with three or four machines operating.  We have our gown in a cubby hole which we retrieve each day.  It is a good idea as you only have it on for a few minutes and if they were all getting thrown straight into the wash it would be a big waste of time and money.  It is just a lot of driving up and down each day, still, I suppose other people have to drive back and forward to work, so I can’t really complain.

IMG_2718My wig started to fall off today, as I lay back on the X-ray table, and the nurse said, ‘wow is that a wig, I see lots of wigs and I didn’t think that was one’, which is what most people think. It was from Godiva’s Secret wigs in America, and I bought it online after watching lots of their videos on You Tube. I must say the red one I bought here to use my voucher I was given is not as nice, and I probably won’t wear it.  I will donate the wigs I don’t wear to the cancer council wig library (they lend them out to patients) once this is all over.  Is that a bit like a friend saying “I bought this dress, and it looks hideous, so I thought you might like it” or ‘I bought this dress and it is way too big, so it will probably fit you’

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Where did my Girliness go

Ah! Beautiful Nails, one can only dream

Ah! Beautiful Nails, one can only dream

I must say Chemo certainly puts a strain on femininity.  So far I have lost my hair, most of my eyebrows and eyelashes, along with at this stage of recovery, I have continually watery eyes, which means if I put on eye makeup it is off by the time I get down the road.  Last but not least to add to the grossness of peeling skin on my hands and feet, some of my fingernails are falling off. I can only feel for my Breast Cancer sisters who have had to suffer losing a breast or both to Mastectomies which would really cement the feeling that our femininity has been taken from us.  I can only hope that along with all these indignities that any rogue cancer cells that may have been floating around in my body are now dispatched along with my fingernails. I know, I know, I am just whinging they will grow back, there are people much worse off than me.

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First day of Radiation therapy today and it was a bit of a pain, not painful just a pain.  I waited for 45 minutes and finally after a man had gone in who I overheard saying  had an appointment at 12.30pm, and mine was at 12.00 noon went to enquire if I was on the list. I was told I had been late and they had called me already so had gone onto the next patient.  I wasn’t late so was a little annoyed.  I am used to waiting for hours at hospitals, but since I was told radiation doesn’t take long, wasn’t expecting to be there for long.  Allan had our grandson Beau in the other waiting room (you aren’t allowed to wait with your patient as they have limited chairs, although I noticed everyone in there was with a companion, one lady had four people come in with her).  The Radiation doesn’t hurt and I finally emerged at 1.40 pm and found Allan and Beau, who had been very well-behaved while he waited. So far so good.  One down 24 sessions to go.

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Finally, this afternoon I started to feel a bit of energy and enthusiasm start to return and contacted a lady to do some gardening and booked the dog in for grooming as she is starting to look like the woolly woofer from the bush. I might even tackle the dishes in a bit.

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Meanwhile, we went to pick up our new phones from the Post Office as we had been at Fiona Stanley when they were delivered and there was a surprise gift sent to me from one of Allan’s Dart friends Tim Parker, a guardian angel figurine to encourage me through my cancer journey.  What a lovely thoughtful thing to do, thank you Tim.  It makes me feel very special to be fussed over so often and thankful that there are so many thoughtful generous people in my world.

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End of the Chemo Road

Had a lovely day yesterday with our good friends Chris and Marcia from Kangaroo Island.  It was great catching up, since it doesn’t happen often enough now that we live so far apart.  Allan and I went to Kangaroo Island last year for a few days after we had finished at the Australian Darts Championships that had been in Adelaide.  It turned out to be the coldest couple of days Adelaide had seen for ages, with snow on Mt Lofty the night before. When we headed off from the Bus Depot to catch the ferry to the Island at 6am, there was a storm blowing and we weren’t sure whether the Ferry would run and wouldn’t know until the Captain made his decision once we got to Cape Jervis.  He very rarely cancels, so we headed off dipping and rising on the huge waves as we crossed.  I didn’t feel worried at all, I guess because you can see land from both sides, so maybe I thought I could swim if things got desperate.

This was on the way back - after the storm

This was on the way back – after the storm

This is my third week after my last round of Chemo, so by next week my energy should be returning and I should be starting to feel more my old self.  It is kind of strange, getting cancer and going through Chemo is probably on most people’s ‘things to be dreaded list’ yet here I am having gone through both and come out the other end to tell the story.  I have experienced going to the cancer centre, having toxic substances injected into my veins, and meeting with Oncologists and Breast Cancer Surgeons, and it isn’t the end of the world.  What is really weird is that it is like taking a holiday from your every day life, even though holiday is probably the wrong word to describe all this.  I have not gone to so many things due to being tired from Chemo and completely stepped back from most of the things I usually get involved in.  The thing is now I am hesitant to jump back into it all.  I have liked having this break from the rush of life, although right now I am still tired, so maybe once my old energy comes back I will want to be busy again.

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A young boy came to my door and asked me would I like this soap.  I thought he was selling raffle tickets.  Turned out he is the son of our granddaughter Hannah’s Mum’s friend who lives around the corner from us and sent them to me as a gift.  What a lovely thing to do, beautiful strawberry scented handmade soaps.  I felt very spoil, and once again surprised by the thoughtfulness of so many people towards me since I started my Breast Cancer journey.  Thank you so much Janelle!

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Meanwhile, I made my own yoghurt.  I just heated 1.4 ltrs milk mixed with 2 tablespoons powdered milk to 90 degrees centre grade, then plunged it into a sink of cold water (don’t get the water in the milk) and as soon as the temperature lowered to 45 degrees centre grade I whisked in 2 tablespoons plain greek style yoghurt (no added gelatine)  I poured it into my 2 litre mason jar which I had sterilised in the oven screwed on the lid, wrapped it in two tea towels and popped it into a small insulated bag overnight.  In the morning I had 2 litres of gorgeous thick yogurt.  Cost is about $1.70 from now on for the two litres as once you shell out for the small tub of yogurt on the first time, you just freeze 2 tablespoons which you can defrost for the next time you make it.

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