Tuesday, September 30, 2008

2 down-31 to go

I started radiation on Monday. The first of 33 sessions, 1 per day for six and a half weeks. It is deceptively easy. The whole session takes about 5 minutes. It takes longer to park and undress and redress than it does to actually go through the treatment.

I have not yet experienced any of the side effects though I understand it can take a couple of weeks for them to show up. In comparison to chemo, it should be easier. The two biggest side effects are fatigue and skin issues-something like a sunburn.

It all sounds comparatively easy. However radiation is serious. You can only have radiation once in your lifetime. Because my lump was on the left side, I have the potential to have permanent damage to my heart, my lungs or my ribs. Hopefully this won't be the case but it is a risk. After these treatments, I will have had my maximum lifetime radiation. You know when you have an xray and they put that nice heavy metal apron on to protect you from the radiation? I don't get the metal apron. I get the full effect of something that I have had to be protected against my entire life.

So why do it? It improves my chances of survival by about 7-10%. That may sound like a small amount and some people choose not to do radiation, but for me 7-10 percent is enough to make it worth it. I think I would worry about it constantly if I didn't do radiation. I want to make sure I have done everything I can to improve my chances of survival and reduce my chances of a recurrence. So I will go every day for 6 and a half weeks and I will try every day to remember why I am doing it.

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