Friday, March 26, 2010

and another set of side effects begins...

And I thought I was going to get off scott-free.  Seems like I have the tendency to speak too soon about these things. 

My sore throat started a couple days ago as just a "frog in your throat" feeling.  The feeling that you've swallowed something, but it just doesnt want to go down.  Last night, after making burgers for dinner.... my god, I will not be eating ground beef through the remainder of my radiation course.  Talk about tough to swallow.
Luckily, there is only 1 week left of radiation treatments.  Knowing my usual anticipation of things to come, it will go by slowly, but surely!  I'd like to avoid "ensure" or "slimfast" meals 3 - 4 times a day if I can.  But I have a feeling there will be many milkshakes, mashed potatoes, and strawberries and cream ensure here and there to help with my apetite.  Even though its all loaded with sugar.   :)

I'd rather have a sore throat, than go through chemotherapy again.

Friday, March 19, 2010

A look into the radiation experience

Found this video on YouTube, as i've been searching endlessly for something similar to my experience.
This man is being treated for colon cancer, so the difference is... I actually lay face up, as they radiate my chest and neck (front and back).

But this is really close to what its really like, the sound, the machine, everything.  Enjoi.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The support system

I've been reading a lot lately about people whose support system, dissappears.  Its sad, because those of us who are going through the worst of the worst, need our family and friends more than ever.  I've been blessed with having a really close family.  Not once did I go to chemotherapy alone.  Not one day afterwards went without at least a phone call.  Its so hard to hear about peoples parents avoiding their phone calls.  Friends being ignorant.  The people closest to you backing away as you fight for your life.. its so wrong.  It makes me sad.

So this post is deticated to my support system.  I would not have gone through all of this, avoiding complications, avoiding the downward spiral of depression... without YOU.  Wish I could throw a party in honor of YOU.  Because YOU are a big, big part of the cancer fighting process.  and YOU deserve a frickin medal or something.
Sarah & Chris
Angry Panda


P.S. Pets ARE a huge part of your support system.
P.S.S. I also found many many great people on Planet Cancer.  No better brain to pick than a fellow young adult cancer survivor.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Simulation

The simulation is part one of the radiation schedule.  This post is to document my experience, as it was far from enjoyable.

Mom and I show up at the radiation oncology department at St Josephs about 10min early.  A male nurse walks into the waiting room with my chart and calls my name.  So naturally I stood up and was prepared to follow him into a room where things would be explained to me.  Ha ha, No.  He proceeded to pull out a digital camera and take my picture right there in the waiting room (with all glass walls, exposing me to the hosiptals main floor) so the picture was awful, my face is bright red, hat hair, just embarrassing.  Its so I can identify myself easily, to make sure they are treating the right person.  So I shrug it off and follow him into the womens changing room where he wanted me to change into a gown, take off all jewelry, etc... I end up in a second waiting room where other radiation patients wait their turn for the zappy zap.  "Man nurse" meets me there and brings me into the "simulation room" where he proceeds to explain the importance of a pregnancy test. "is there a chance you could be pregnant?" he asks. "well, I guess theres always a chance.".  Thinking that might have been obvious if he had read my chart.  Next thing I know, hes sending me to put my clothes back on, walk over to a different building and have bloodwork done to verify whether or not i'm pregnant.

As I waited and waited for "Ms Wright?" at the lab... I finally get called back.  The lab tech sticks me and starts filling a FEW viles with my blood.  "Wow, thats a lot of blood for a pregnancy test" I said.  She says "Pregnancy Test???" Wow. Talk about a cluster-fuck of miscommunication between medical professionals. Good thing I said that DURING the blood draw so she was able to get the right colored tube for the job.

Mom and I get back to radiation oncology waiting room and are told it would be about 20minutes for the results to come back. 15min later I get an email on my phone with the pregnancy test results via email.  NEGATIVE.  45 MINUTES later a nurse shows up to escort me back to get changed.  Must have caught the lunch break.  Finally i'm back in the simulation room and they start explaining whats going down.
-Get mold of upper torso to keep you in place
-CT scan to ensure pinpoint accuracy of radiation beams.
-Tattoos to mark angles
-Watch old school 80's style educational video on radiation and cancer

I have to elaborate on the tattoos because its not what most people would think as a tattoo.  Its more like sticking a needle painfully deep into my skin, swirling it around, and pouring blue ink into the wound...  3 times. (I am NOT over-exaggerating here, it really is what they did)  After, they poured some alcohol on it to avoid infection and sent me on my way.  No stopping the bleeding, no band-aids, no cotton ball, no nothing.  So as I walk back to the dressing room, theres blood spots under both arms (mid-ribcage) and in between the boobs.  Ugh.  I desperately tried to stop the bleeding with the hospital gown before putting my clothes back on to avoid blood stains on my clothes.

All I could do throughout the entire simulation was think good thoughts Katie.  Dont cry, dont think about the embarrassment of it all.  I guess thats all you really can do when your strapped down to a table, no shirt, bloody tattoos, and 10 people hovering over me like some science project.

--Hey, just watch this 80's educational video about radiation, check in with the nurses station about skin care recommendations, and see you next week!--

Dont I get a sucker?
A sticker?
Or how about "I had cancer, and all I got was this T-Shirt"?
BUT all is well when mom treats me to some much needed BEER, and steamed crab legs at Joe's.
Mom knows best. :)