I'm done with rads!
Updated: Jun 5, 2019
Wanted to give a quick update. I finished radiation therapy on Friday (5/17)! 33 of 33 treatments complete! My radiation oncologist did tweak my treatments a little bit at the end to lessen my immediate side effects (skin irritation), and I am very grateful to her for that. The itching has started to subside, and the burning feeling is passing as well. The charred skin has started to peel, which sounds gross, but it was such an immediate relief and the skin underneath is healthy and ready to take over. Picture the worse sunburn you've ever had, and then pretend the sun burned you from the inside out, not the other way around.
Walked in the Susan G. Komen Walk for the Cure on Mother's day. It was a beautiful day, way too crowded, but Andy and I still had fun. I'll think about doing it again next year, but maybe do the run instead. Or, they have this option called, "sleep in for the cure," where you just raise money and donate it to the cause without actually having to show up. That sounds pretty awesome too. I'm also not sure I like the term survivor. If you know me at all, you know I don't like to draw attention to myself, so standing out in a crowd of grey shirts wearing a pink "survivor" shirt made me feel uncomfortable. It also alienates the men and women with metastatic disease (incurable breast cancer), and I just haven't embraced the term for myself. I understand why the term is used, and that it is a huge branding/marketing strategy, but I just don't like it personally. I have heard other terms thrown around, like thriver, but I'm not sure I like that either. Is it wrong to just want to be me? Without some other adjective describing me? I know I am not the old me, and I never will be again because cancer changes you, as cliche as that sounds. I just don't want to be labeled as something that I don't fully support. So, I will think on it, and let you know what I decide for a badass adjective to describe the new me.
Had a discussion with my oncologist about continued endocrine therapy. I am currently on monthly lupron injections which stop all hormones from being produced in your body. Basically putting you into full-blown medically induced menopause. As you can guess, this has side effects greater than my butt being sore from the huge needle. At my age, it means I will develop osteoporosis (those were my doctor's words, it's not if, but when). My oncologist and I have been collaborating with a world expert in breast cancer at the NIH, and he has some recommendations of his own which include stopping the lupron and starting tamoxifen. Tamoxifen is given to women not yet in menopause who are at high risk of breast cancer recurrence, or in some cases, haven't had breast cancer, but have a gene mutation putting them at high risk of developing cancer. I will be meeting with the world expert when I am at the NIH for my second stomach mapping and biopsy procedure June 12-14th. It is at those appointments I hope to make a decision about when the big surgery will be happening (total gastrectomy). I also hope to figure out what to do in terms of ongoing endocrine therapy. It is that whole question of weighing potential risks and benefits and quality of life over potential risk reducing benefits. Of course it isn't cut and dry in my case like in other cases because my tumor was not estrogen receptor positive. If that were the case, I would be on endocrine therapy for 10 years, no questions asked. But, my tumor was only progesterone positive, and there are basically no studies looking at this rare hormone receptor status because there are so few breast cancer cases that are truly ER-, PR+. With that in mind, it is thought that there may be some benefit for me with endocrine therapy, but there is no research backing it, and there are A LOT of potential side effects and long-term risks to consider. I'm not sure what to do yet. Hopefully I will know more and feel more comfortable with a decision after the NIH visit.
Had a little grad party get together yesterday. The weather was crap, but still enjoyed it. Today is commencement. Just read an NBC news headline about a billionaire who gave a commencement speech and at the end of it he promised to pay off the college debt of the entire class of 2019 at that college. Here's to hoping my commencement speaker does the same....a girl can hope 😏
Feels like everything is wrapping up in my life these days. Andy pointed out last night that I am graduating from school, I finished breast cancer treatment, and Game of Thrones is officially over!! Geez, I guess it is time to start fresh!