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  • Writer's pictureChrisCutler

Phase II on the Horizon

“Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it without knowing what's going to happen next.” ~Gilda Radner

"I don't know if it's that you're feeling better or if it's that we finally have a plan, but life feels, I don't know, almost normal again," Mike said to me last night.

"I think it's a little of both," I agreed.

It's been four weeks since my last chemo infusion, and I'm feeling better everyday. There are a few remaining side effects of the chemo—weakness, lack of taste, and eyesight problems—but I'll take them over the effects I had during the chemo phase of my treatment.

Over the past two weeks, I've had a zillion (well, eight) medical appointments. The best part is that I am now able to move into Phase II of treatment for the devil that attacked Ethel. I'm fortunate to qualify for the Canadian radiation protocol which is 16 daily (Monday-through-Friday) treatments at a greater dose instead of 32-36 at a lower dose. Studies have shown that the shorter regimen produces fewer side effects (YAY).

Just hearing someone say "side effects" makes my skin crawl, but those associated with radiation are not as bad as those with chemo. Radiation can cause sunburn-like inflammation, itchiness, breast pain, and fatigue, and the Canadian protocol has produced fewer bad burns and pain.

Getting Ready

Last week, I had to go in and get my tattoos and mapping done. First they did a CT scan to figure out the exact area where the cancer had been and to see what remained behind. Once that was done, Dr. Meoz, the radiation oncologist, came in and drew a road map all over Ethel to indicate where the techs should aim the beams and where the tattoos should go.

"Can you give me three sea shells?" I asked Stacy, the radiation tech who was doing the tattoos.

"I can't do sea shells," she retorted. "I'm going to do a black cat."

"No cats," I told her. "How about daisies?"

I ended up with three polka dots. Darn.

I went back on Friday for another mapping sequence. Stacy drew all over Ethel again, and the techs set up the machine by taking more measurements.

"Relax," Stacy told me about 5000 times.

"That word is not in my dictionary," I replied.

Here's the thing: I am not as afraid of this treatment as I was of the chemo. If I have any of the side effects, they will be nothing compared to the ones I had over the past four months. I have a prescription gel in case I get the sunburn, and the fatigue I can handle. The one thing that gives me pause is that amount of radiation invading my body.

"Maybe I'll start glowing in the dark" I said to Mike. He rolled his eyes.

"But, dear," he laughed, "you glow already."

What a guy.

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