Yesterday I met with the radiation oncologist for the last time during this treatment. We discussed the time it will take to assess the results of the radiation treatment and what the options would be depending on that outcome. In treating bone cancer it can take two months to determine the success rate of the radiation treatment. Just the kind of answer an impatient person wants to hear (sigh).
In the meantime, my level of pain is the most accurate measure of the cancer’s reduction or growth in that area. All I can say is that up to the time that I started the treatment, the pain was spreading and increasing in intensity fairly often. It felt like every couple of days or so I would feel it farther to the right in my back or with a sharper shooting pain somewhere within the band of pain across the back. Now, it feels as though it is not increasing even though it is not yet decreasing. Pain is always an ornery symptom; when you have regular pain, it teases you one day here and there with an easy day, making you think that perhaps the condition has improved because the pain has eased a bit. Then, surprise. The very next day the pain returns to shoot arrows into your theory and your area of agony, making you wonder whether it is actually getting worse even though the expectation, from the treatment, the therapy, should be making it better. I will monitor it and try not to overestimate how good I feel, which is what happens when assessing turns into wishful thinking.
Yesterday after feeling as though the side effects were not going to attack me at all, it seemed that all the side effects invaded all at once. The least of the issues is the skin discomfort, which is not even visibly discolored but only sensitive to the touch. Aloe vera gel seems to help, and I like it better than the Aquafor because it is not as heavy and viscous nor as sticky. Because the radiation passes through the esophagus, it can become tender and suffer some symptoms of indigestion. That had not happened until yesterday afternoon, though I would not describe it as indigestion but more a feeling that I have a golf ball in my throat. When I swallow food or drink, I have the sensation that it is getting stuck. The doctor says that this feeling is from the sensitivity in the esophagus. That feeling has increased today, and I have wanted to drink cool fluids and have avoided anything hot. I have also had a fairly constant feeling of nausea since yesterday. As I have ginger handy as a remedy because it has always worked for me, I find that it continues to work with this latest bout of tummy woes. Overall, I just feel sick, almost flu-ish. There is also a pervasive feeling that I need to burp.
Of course, I feel like sleeping pretty much the entire time I am awake except for the few moments following my waking up after a nap.
Just one more day now and then . . .
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