An update, now that I have finished my first 3 weeks of radiation therapy and several people have been asking how I have been.
A short post today, since radiation makes me feel… well, tired. Not your normal end-of-the-day kind of tired but a tired that is beyond reason. Think back to your high school days when you could sleep for like 14 to 16 hours at a time. Or when you have the flu and your body is fighting something and you can’t stay awake even if you wanted to, and sleep for sometimes days. That is similar to what radiation-tired is like.
Sometimes it seems I’m okay, but then sometimes when I’m out-and-about the fatigue hits me suddenly, and I need to sit down and rest. WebMD describes it like this:
“The fatigue you feel from cancer and radiation therapy is different from other times you may have felt tired. It’s an exhaustion that doesn’t get better with rest and can keep you from doing the things you normally do, like going to work or spending time with family and friends. It also can seem different from day to day, which makes it hard to plan around it.”
That pretty much nails it.
My daily routine consists of attempting to get up at 5 am to get to work early. Instead, I hit the snooze button for an hour and a half until I am forced to get up. I arrive at work and I am there about 6 hours until I must leave for my daily (Yes, daily) radiation treatment. Every day except for weekends, I travel the half hour from work to the cancer center, for my radiation as previously described in this blog, here.
My skin gives off a radiant heat afterwards, and I’m starting to get small blisters scattered across the targeted radiation zone. I have turned bright pink – much like sunburn and have even developed some deep, painful redness in areas. I itch, I hurt. Unfortunately, I’m far from done. Well, maybe not far from being well-done.
After treatment I go home and sleep for maybe 2-3 hours. I get up around 8 pm, sometimes I have to be forced awake by my husband, and we go walk the dog. I eat, I shower, and am back in bed by 10 pm. Then it starts all over again. It’s amazing how easily I fall asleep after having such a long nap, and how difficult it still is to get up each morning. I used to be someone who would toss and turn for hours at night after taking even a one hour nap. Not so, anymore.
The fatigue effects can last up to 3 months after I complete therapy, according to the radiation-pamphlet-thingy, given to me by the cancer center. If so, a good part of my summer is shot. As if having to stay out of the sun isn’t bad enough, now I get to sleep through summer. Well, it’s not like I was a sun-worshipper to begin with, but now I have to be very careful outside and that’s not something I’m good at. I’m more like a reckless idiot.
A few more weeks and I’ll be finished with radiation, and I’m looking forward to it. The Hemi has been eating fuel like a 10-year-old eats Easter candy. This has been tough, but I have been more fortunate than some. I’m nearing the end and will prayerfully finish out my life in remission. I now pray for several friends I have recently discovered have been diagnosed with cancer, as they start their healing journey.
It’s Easter and Jesus has my back. With him, I’ve got this. I’m strong, I’m radiant.