Radiation, Week 3, and Surgical Follow-Up

This essay was originally published on February 20, 2015.

You’re wondering where my picture of Michael Richards as a turkey is… Well, I chose this one of Bill Murray instead, for no reason other than I like it. It’s from last week’s Pebble Beach Pro Am golf tournament, during which he always does a great job making everyone laugh. Though I’m not a golfer, I’ve been to Pebble Beach, and it is one of the most spectacular places here in North America.

Anyway, I’ve completed three weeks of radiation, although not a full 15 treatments since Monday was a holiday. I’ve got 17 left. My skin is starting to pink up slightly, and as I mentioned yesterday, the lymphedema in my left arm has gotten worse. My physical therapist and I agreed to go at it more aggressively once radiation is completed. I am very determined to not have a reaction, as I said. If I have to sleep in my tub of argan oil cream, I will do it.

Today I had a follow-up visit with the surgeon who performed my mastectomy. It’s a little over seven months since I had the surgery, and all is well. We discussed a few things about my general health and my chemotherapy experience, and he asked me to participate in a clinical trial.

It turns out that there isn’t much in the way of follow-up care for women like me who have had bilateral mastectomies, so he asked if I would be willing to commit to coming in every six months for three years for an ultrasound to check the area where my breasts used to be. Of course I agreed, since I was actually wondering what could be done to check for recurrence in that part of my body. I had heard something about having periodic ultrasounds, since it’s not like I’ll be able to have mammograms (thankfully). He told me that there isn’t much data compiled for women like me who have had a “double”, and since the procedure is being performed more often now, statistics are needed to see how women are faring. I had my first ultrasound today, and I will be going back for another one in August.

So, that’s it for week three.

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