I have been quiet recently, but I have been that way with everyone, not just the wonderful people who follow my blog. I emailed my family updating them on how I was doing, and my cousin said he was just about to ask me. I wrote back, and I told both he and my other family members the following, and I think this explains it as best as I can.
“It is hard to explain, but when I am having the difficulties I was having, and still am, with trying to recover from the treatments, it is hard to write about it. Everything with cancer is physical and mental, and at times, the mental is the most challenging part to deal with. When I got to my last three radiation treatments, I was in tears and telling my husband that “I didn’t want to do this anymore.” I went through the same thing when I got to number 12 of 16 chemotherapy infusions. It is so hard to see what the meds, treatments, infusions, etc…are doing to your body, yet you have little to no way of controlling anything. Sure, you can fight the side effects, but that is generally done with more medication, and sometimes, that’s the last thing I want.”
So, I have been working on recovering from 10 potent radiation treatments, and it has not been easy. This coming Wednesday will be three weeks since I had my last treatment. My radiation oncologist said that the radiation would continue to work for three weeks after treatment ends, so I hope to start feeling better later this week.
About halfway through my treatments, I started dealing with very severe fatigue. Even the simplest tasks would tire me, so I had to rest as much as possible. I asked one of the techs one day if my radiation dose was more potent than what I had in 2019, and she confirmed that it was. Generally, when you have 10 treatments vs. 25, the amount is more concentrated so that there are fewer treatments, two weeks vs. five weeks.
Along with the fatigue, I had some painful side effects. My whole body started hurting all of the time, and sometimes Extra Strength Tylenol was strong enough to ease the pain, and sometimes it was not. When it wasn’t strong enough, I had to break into my hoard of oxycodone I had left over from my surgeries, which seemed to help. I was also getting headaches, I was dizzy at times, and worst of all, I had pain when I ate.
My treatment was done from the front to the back, meaning that even though my tumor is on the 8th rib in my back, I was lying on my back for treatment. My tumor is also about one inch from my spine, so that is a big reason why I didn’t have surgery. I didn’t think about the tumor’s location with other body parts because I just wanted the tumor to die.
My radiation oncologist told me that I might have pain when eating but that it would start towards the end of treatment and should stop pretty quickly once treatment was over. I asked her why, and she said my esophagus was close to the treatment area. I hadn’t thought about anything like that, so I was shocked. Sure enough, on the weekend before my last three treatments, I started having pain when eating. At first, it wasn’t too bad, but by the time I reached my last day of treatment, it was excruciating.
On the last Monday of my treatment, I had an appointment with my medical oncologist before my radiation treatment. He asked me many questions about how I was doing with the treatment and my side effects. He is an entirely different type of oncologist, so he is always curious to know how patients tolerate other types of treatment. When I explained my pain when I ate, he immediately asked me if I wanted to have him prescribe oxycodone. I have often read about patients needing pain medication and being denied because there is such a massive issue with addiction. I didn’t think for a second that my oncologist would tell me no because he knew that oxycodone scared me. So I now have more of that medication than I need because he always prescribes 90 pills, but it is helping me with the pain I have when I eat, and so far, just one a day has been enough.
On June 1st, I have a follow-up appointment with my radiation oncologist. She will chat with me to ensure I have no issues with my recovery. When I was discharged from my treatment, she told me it would take 3 to 6 weeks to recover from the radiation treatments. When I see her for my appointment, I will be at five weeks since my last treatment and hopefully feeling much better.