Dermatologist Update

I just realized that I hadn’t given an update on how things are going with my dermatology appointments in quite some time. As a reminder, after my radiation treatments were over at the end of January last year, I was left with three blue radiation tattoos that are deep in my skin and much larger than they should be, so I decided to have them removed. I found an excellent doctor in Atlanta that does laser treatments to remove tattoos, and he removes radiation tattoos for FREE for cancer patients. On February 25th, 2020, I had my first appointment with him, and I can’t lie; it does hurt, but after a few hours, the pain turns into soreness, and a few days later, it doesn’t hurt at all.

Recovering from all of the surgeries, chemotherapy treatments, and radiation treatments is a very personal and challenging part of the cancer journey. I have found when talking with other cancer patients that they don’t mind the radiation tattoos, but for me, it is a reminder of a terrible time in my life, and I don’t want to see them on my body. What is odd to me is that my port scar, which is visible with most of the tops that I wear, doesn’t bother me; it is like a badge of honor to me. My scars from my multiple surgeries to my chest are still fading away, and some of them are almost entirely gone, so they don’t bother me either. But the radiation tattoos…I can’t stand them! I know that none of this makes sense, but it’s how my mind works; I guess what counts is that I am doing what I need to for me and no one else.

So far, I have had eight appointments, and the tattoos have faded quite a bit. I was trying to go every four weeks, but between the doctor needing to reschedule me a few times, me going through another surgery last April, and the holidays, I have missed about five months. My doctor is wonderful and very understanding, so when I saw him earlier this month, he assured me that we would keep going until all three of the tattoos are gone; he exclaimed: “We will finish the treatments this year for sure!” I will post images from my before and now progress in the next dermatologist update.

Side note: I asked the nurse the other day how much my appointments would generally be, and she said $125 each. Dermatologist appointments are not covered by insurance because they are considered cosmetic, so it doesn’t matter that I currently do not have insurance. I must say that I am so grateful that I found this doctor because I would already be $1000 into the cost of having these tattoos removed, and that is quite a bit of money when I think about it.

2nd Dermatologist Appointment

Mood: Grateful 🙂

On April 1st I had my 2nd appointment with my dermatologist. About 2 weeks prior to my appointment, I received a call from his office saying that they had to cancel my appointment due to Coronavirus and that they would call me back when they reopened to reschedule me. I received a call to reschedule a few days later and I was surprised that his office had reopened so quickly, and that they were able to reschedule me only one week after my original appointment.

When I arrived at my appointment I asked the nurse about the office closure and she said that someone on staff had symptoms and tested positive. She assured me that the office was safe as they took the time to disinfect everything so they could get back to seeing their patients as soon as possible.

My treatment went well and was quick as it was the first time. I pointed out the dot on my right side that hadn’t responded to the first treatment so the doctor made sure to laser it more this time. A few days later, the dot started to respond so that was a great relief to me. Responding is basically having a scab develop where the area was treated with the laser, and the scab develops and then peels off a few times before it settles and heals. So, my appointments are 4 to 6 weeks apart to give me skin time to go through that process. Does it hurt to have the three dots lasered? Yes, it does hurt but the actual pain only lasts a few hours with some soreness for another day; so to me, not bad at all.

I have one more appointment scheduled for mid-May and we will see if I need to go back in for a 4th time during that appointment. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the time my dermatologist is taking with me to make sure that all three dots are gone to my satisfaction and his as well; especially since he is doing this for free because I have battled breast cancer.

Final Appointment With My Radiation Oncologist

Mood: Happy 😊

A few days ago I had my final appointment with my radiation oncologist. The last time I saw her was the Friday before my last treatment back in January so this was a 6 week follow up to check on my overall health, my skin where my burn was on my collar bone and on my breast.

The skin on my collar bone got even redder a few days after my last treatment. I had some medicated lotion left over from going through my daily treatments so I kept using that three times a day and the burn eventually peeled completely and then healed up. She said that my breast is still a little swollen and I agreed. The swelling will eventually go away with time, there isn’t much I can do to help it along and it’s not so swollen that I need to be concerned about it.

My fatigue is still in the mid range, about 4 or 5 out of 10. She wasn’t surprised that I am still dealing with the fatigue as my body has been through so much in the last year +. I told her that I am taking things day by day, some days are better than others, but overall I am slowly improving.

She asked me if I have had any appointments with my other oncologist and surgeon since finishing radiation treatment and I updated her on those appointments. I also told her about the dermatologist that is removing my radiation tattoos and showed her the progress from my first appointment with him. She asked if her office has the contact information for the dermatologist and I let her know that I gave it to the front desk. Now if she has any other patients ask her about getting the radiation tattoos removed, she can give them his information and let them know that he removes them for free.

We ended my appointment with a big hug and she made me promise that my husband and I will stop by after our trip in May and show her the pictures from our trip and especially our ceremony….we are renewing our vows in Jamaica. 😁

So now my most excellent team of three doctors is down to two. I am sad, but also happy that I am completely done with a third of my journey. My oncologist and surgeon will be with me for quite a while to come as I am on medication for 10 years and I may possibly have one more surgery in September.

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