Healthy Body: 5 weeks of radiation

When I talk about what I’ve been thru with my health, I always feel like I’m singing the 12 days of Christmas.

Double mastectomy...

6 months of chemo ...

5 weeks of radiation ...

The up side: it’s to ensure any microscopic cancer cells are killed. Yes, I thought chemo was for this exact purpose but apparently, losing all your hair, and feeling tired and sh*tty, isn’t good enough to be sure it’s done. More fatigue ordered.

Before you start radiation, your presence is requested at CT scan planning. You’re asked to lay on your back and place your arms in traps on the side of your head, so you look like a baby sleeping in the Superman pose. They use a marker to mark you, stick some wires on you and ask you to breathe while the bed is moving in and out of the CT scan. On the third breath, you inhale as deep as you can and hold it for 20 seconds. They’re taking pictures but you’re really practicing holding your breath. Why? Because during the radiation, you need to keep air in your lungs so your chest wall is pushed away from your heart because that’s where they’re radiating. Fun eh! So now I’m terrified but I have no choice. I feel fu%^ed either way. I either wait and see if cancer comes back not doing radiation or make sure I kill it all but risk a heart attack/heart damage later in life because the radiation is on the left side. Later in life is when? No one knows. I’m hoping it’s LATER...

After the pictures were taken they marked me with permanent tattoos. You know: six little freckles, she said.

I don’t look at stuff I can’t handle. I actually have two cute tattoos, and I can say for sure that these freckles felt like I was impaled onto a thorny tree. Like I tripped into a rose bush. Not fun. The first was smack in the middle of my chest on the sternum. I swore like a trucker and I didn’t really care. There’s no time to be polite. Pain sucks. They stuck me five more times but there was a little more flesh on those. I screamed on each one. I was cold, anxious, and needed to pee. I actually picture Hawaiian tattoo ceremonies.

I haven’t undressed yet to take a peek, and this was now nine hours ago. I’m working up the courage.

You’d think I’d be used to all this medical procedure stuff but no, it never gets easier for me.

Laura Muer is a native West Islander and single mom, and she's not defined by life’s curve balls. 

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