Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Part 2: The Radiation Routine

After the horrible experience of simulation was over I quickly settled into the daily routine of radiation, which went something like this
-Wake up, get ready
-Drive to Seattle
 -Morning appointment at Children’s for Carbo infusion
-Drive to UW Med [which could take up to 45 minutes to go about 3 miles]
-Wait for radiation appointment
-Lay on uncomfortable table for 45 minutes to 1 hour
-Drive home
-Repeat again tomorrow (for 30 days)

I started radiation treatment a few days before Thanksgiving. I remember Dean, one of my radiation technicians, telling me I was lucky I started when I did because I’d still be able to eat Thanksgiving dinner (which happens to be my favorite dinner of the year.)

My last haircut for over a year
The effects of radiation are cumulative, so they don’t start right away. For the first two weeks of treatment I was feeling pretty good. No more massive headaches or nausea. By the end of the second week my hair had started to fall out. One morning I awoke to clumps of hair on my pillow and even more came out in the shower. I didn’t tell anyone all day. I had a haircut scheduled for that night to even it out after my surgery shaving. I did think about having Tracey shave it off, but I decided to have her just cut it even though I knew it was going to fall out anyway. 

Around the same time other side effects of radiation and chemo began to set in as well.

I was incredibly nauseous and threw up several times a day. My diet became very limited and I was very sensitive to cooking smells. One time scrambled eggs even smelled too strong.

 Over the next four weeks I became increasingly weak and fatigued. By the end, I had to be pushed in a wheel chair to get from the parking lot to the clinic and my dad would have to carry me up the stairs at night to get to bed.

Radiation burn can be seen on my neck in this picture.
It is also the only time I have ever been tanner than Megan.
Radiation also comes with radiation burn (basically very intense localized sunburn). For me, it appeared as a bright red stripe down my spine. It was very painful, but there were some suggested pain management techniques. My mom, being the mother of invention, rigged up a system for me. She taped a piece of moistening gauze slathered in Aquaphor lotion to the inside of a cami since taping the bandage to my skin would further irritate the burn. Radiation burn is so severe that there is actually a thing called after burn where the radiation enters through one side of your body, exits through the other side and leaves a burn on the way out. 

On their last day of radiation, pediatric patients at UW get a beanie baby husky dog (UW mascot) and a certificate of completion signed by the doctors nurses and technicians. As I watched other patients leave at the end of their treatment, I couldn't wait for my turn. Finally, the last day arrived, Radiation Graduation (as my dad called it), and I couldn’t have been happier. 
Radiation Graduation
My mask is in my lap , inside it is my husky.

Without a doubt, radiation was the worst part of treatment. I didn’t want to go one day longer than I already had to, so I fought every day to get to the hospital. Some days it was a very close call and I barely made it out of the house on time, but I never missed an appointment.

Following radiation I had 6 weeks off treatment before I would start six rounds of monthly chemotherapy.

Mischief Managed,

Run of Hope Total: $1,545

To contribute, please visit: 

If we raise $2,500  by September 15th my team name, Sammy's Blobslayers will appear on this year's Run of Hope shirt!  Thanks for your support!

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