So, I reach a treatment transition. Tuesday was my next to last chemotherapy, and yesterday was my initial radio-oncology appointment.

Next week, I’ll have my last chemo and my PICC line will come out. The PICC has done a great job, but I’ll be glad to see it go. I’ve had a bandage on my arm for 6 months. It’s hard to take a shower more than once without replacing the bandage and baths are a pain. Still, I didn’t have to have a port, and my right arm veins are intact. I’m glad to be done with the steroids too. But it’s a little scary to be on my own as it were, no more chemo to protect me. Still I believe the chemo did the job, so I will be fine. Maybe it’s the support of the oncology staff that I will miss, but I will see them again once I start the armidex – my estrogen receptor blocker.

So rads… Every weekday M-F for 36 treatments. The first is Aug 2. I start with 28 and the last 8 are “boosters” so I guess you finish with a bang. Definitely a big whack to any local disease. The rad-onc people seem nice too, my doc was a pretty amusing guy. Next step is “planning” and a CT scan on Aug 25, then “simulation” on Aug 29 and then we start Aug 2.

No tattoos here….they paint guide marks and cover the marks with special tape (tape, bandage, it’s all the same to me). This means no baths or swimming, showers with “neutral” or baby soap, no underwire bras and no deodorant under the left arm for the course of treatment. Maybe baking soda? Keep the left arm down?

During planning, I assume I will get all this info again. The CT scan is to check the position of all my stuff..because my tumor was on the left side, they have to make sure there as little radiation as possible is delivered to my heart. And lungs too. There is a more complicated way to deliver rads with a special machine and breathing techniques if the heart and lungs are at risk, so they just have to see. You have to place your arms over your head, but i guess if you can’t, there is an alternative. I can, so that’s not an issue. Most radiation is delivered to the local site, but then it drops off, and nothing is delivered to the axila (armpit) since I had no positive nodes. For simulation, they make sure you are positioned correctly and maybe that’s when you get your paint and tape. Interesting that they don’t use tats because lots of people here have them, especially women. I hope the tape doesn’t itch. Of course by now, i’m used to wearing tape….what’s a little more.

But the good news is that my surgery site has healed well, the scar looks good and there is no wrinkling, so that makes rads easier. Some of the side effects are swelling, redness like sunburn, pigmentation, changes to the tissues for a while, tiredness. I should be able to take myself to my appointments, at least for the first few weeks. And every Thursday, I check in with the rad-onc doc to discuss problems, etc. I’m sure this will go well, just like the chemo did. So bring on the tape…