So... met with the radiation oncologist this morning. And I am so, SO looking forward to that process wreaking additional damage on my body.
Here's what will happen: I will have an initial CT scan, so they can identify anything that they think will need radiation. Now this is NOT an ordinary CT scan, since it will also involve a vaginal CT scan. Having experienced a vaginal ultrasound recently, I can tell you that I am NOT looking forward to having another "vaginal" anything done. All dignity, all privacy gone, gone, GONE. They hand you a lubed-up deal and tell you where to place it (3 guesses).
Once the CT stuff is done, then a "plan" will be developed. Basically, I will have 5 weeks of doses (daily, each week, for 25 treatments) of radiation. I am told that they will MARK my body with little dots, to show where the radiation should be directed. I was also told that each session will take about 20 - 30 minutes, most of that to be sure that my body is positioned EXACTLY as needed. This is all while I am naked from the waist down, which I am sure will be EXTREMELY comfortable, right? On a cold, flat, hard surface, in a cold room. Boy, I can hardly wait on this one.
After a couple of weeks, I will apparently have side effects from radiation, which include lack of energy plus internal damage to various parts of my body. Some of those areas include burnt skin or internal tissue, plus damage to my bladder and my bowels. Oh, and to my vagina, too. So: goodbye to what had been a good sex life, I guess. This causes scarring on the upper end of the vagina, and in order to regain full use of this, it has been suggested that I use a vaginal dilator. Oh, more joy and happiness. Not to mention having to buy something that I currently have NO use for, and never wanted to. The bladder damage will cause me to pee more frequently, and the bowel damage will possibly/probably cause diarrhea. The fun, the anticipated laughs, eh? I am only sorry that I have to wait until mid-February to start this round of treatment.
Now, in case you think that all I am doing is feeling sorry for myself, I thought I would share something that I found - written by a woman who also had a cancer diagnosis and did NOT have to have chemo nor radiation. She writes:
I would describe myself as a woman of strong faith with a positive outlook on life. However, with the cancer diagnosis came a deluge of "what-ifs," and cancer began to dominate my thoughts. Fear, anxiety, depression, anger, and sadness were common emotions that plagued me all hours of the day and night. In my quest for information, I discovered the Cancer Concerns Forum on the HysterSister's website. I learned that my "what-ifs" had a name - cancerhead. Time and again this term came up as women described their fears regarding cancer. I found that I was not alone. Psychologists and other experts agree that women diagnosed with cancer respond in similar ways.
1) Denial – There must be some mistake.
2) Anger – Why are you telling me this?
3) Why me? – What did I do, or not do, to deserve this?
4) Resignation – I can’t help myself; it’s beyond my control.
5) Acceptance – I will fight this with everything I’ve got in me.
As I struggled through these various stages, I felt like I was on an emotional roller coaster. I did not want to take this journey or deal with the uncertainty of my future. End of quoted excerpt.
What some of you may not know, is that I have gone through these pissy stages before, when my husband died unexpectedly at age 56, in May of 2008. I found support via some blogs and web sites. Now I am reading some of the SAME "support" statements from cancer sites. Just TOO MUCH to re-visit, you know? Even from the "welcome to this group that you never wanted to join" greetings. TOO MUCH.
The radiation oncologist (who I did like, btw) also said that the healthy reaction I have been experiencing thus far, following 2 rounds of chemo, will NOT last. So I guess I have deteriorating health to look forward to, also. Goodbye, energy, decent appetite, and so on. At least the hair is just about gone, so I won't have to keep sweeping and vacuuming THAT up in a little bit. Good thing, too, since I apparently won't have the energy for that little household chore.
Funny thing is, before this morning's appointment, I was about at step (5), listed above. Now I feel like I am back at step (1). Don't tell me to cheer up, to have a positive attitude. I just don't want to hear it now - if, indeed, ever.