One Burnt Boob

One Burnt Boob

“WOOHOO! You’re finished!” my radiologist whooped this morning, bounding in from behind the thick, radiation-proof concrete doors to untape my chest, and lower the bench I lay on.

She is a bubbly young woman, and has really made the last seven weeks of daily radiation sessions more bearable with her friendly conversation. As I sat up, and reached for my hospital gown, she continued chatting happily about how good it must feel to be finished.

“Think of all the free time you’ll have now!” she gleamed.

I nodded, and smiled.

“Yes, it’s great.”

A minute later I found myself sitting in my small change-room cubicle, staring at my burnt, blistered chest, shaking with silent tears. (God I’ve cried A LOT this year!)

Were they happy tears? I didn’t know. Probably in part, although it feels premature to celebrate, when once again I am left nursing the damage of more brutal cancer treatment; the whole right side of my chest and armpit are red raw, and weeping.

A couple of weeks ago my oncologist joked that my skin looked ‘medium rare’, but today the nurses just grimaced as they dressed it with burn gel and cling-film.

filet burnt

I wonder if it’ll at least fade to a nice, albeit lopsided ‘tan’?

* * * * *

It does feel good to be finished radiotherapy. It is, after all, another treatment phase I can tick off my list.

arvind no celebrate

But tomorrow I start ten years of hormone therapy that will put me into permanent menopause at the tender age of 38, and next week I’m back in hospital for more appointments with my oncologists, plus more tri-weekly infusions of Herceptin and Perjeta…so forgive me for not popping celebratory streamers.

ARGH…I KNOW, I KNOW…

facepalm

SELF PITY ALERT!

I’m just so sick of it all. Actually I think I’m just exhausted. Tired of what feels never-ending to me. It’s nearly September…I’ve been in treatment now for nine months. Just think of all the stuff you’ve done in the last nine months!

I can’t help but think about all the things I’ve missed out on this year. My ‘year of big things’ that never came to fruition is barely even perceptible now, let alone my normal old life. It’s been swallowed up by a black hole of hospital visits, treatment schedules and side effects. Precious time lost forever.

small-violin 2

It’s difficult to convey exactly how I feel without making everyone feel like busting out the violins, but it’s kind of like I’m living a half-life. I’m living, but my mind has lost the trusty autopilot it’s had for 37 years, so navigating each day feels awkward and foreign. Things that were once normal, now no longer are. In fact, there is almost nothing about this life that feels ‘normal’ to me anymore.

There has been a huge shift in the way my mind works, the way I think things through, and go about my day. Once Cancer enters your life, ‘normal’ is altered forever. The normal old Kate that would have once gone about her normal old day freely, now overthinks everything.

There’s the added pressure to enjoy everything more, because I have cancer. There’s the pressure of making the most of every situation, because I have cancer. There’s the stress of not sweating the small things, focusing on what’s important, being mindful, present and grateful for every day. And there’s the sick idiot in pessimistic region of my brain saying, “This might be your last chance.”

It’s totally exhausting. I need someone to come along and pull the plug on my overthinking brain! Switch that normal autopilot back on so I can chillax a little, and just be normal old me.

17 thoughts on “One Burnt Boob

  1. Hi Kate, don’t feel alone with your burnt boob, I currently have the same and a nipple that’s doing silent screams continually. I hate the way that cancer becomes omnipresent in EVERYTHING, even choices over something that’s not connected at all feel invaded.

    I’m sure you’ve had many recommendations of things to read and absorb!! (plus ‘cures’ and suggestions etc etc) however I found that reading Head Space (http://www.amazon.com/Get-Some-Headspace-Mindfulness-Minutes/dp/1250008409) was helpful in managing my racing brain.

    Also I was given a great article at the cancer centre at my hospital about the end of active phases of treatment which I’ve posted on my blog here and there’s a link to download it too, it it’s helpful to have a good old fashioned paper copy!
    https://cystaract.wordpress.com/2015/08/19/half-way-day-and-a-view-towards-the-end-of-radiotherapy/

    You are still you, remember that.

    Rosemary
    x

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  2. Hey Kate, Well done for getting through radiation. I have 3 more to go and feel pretty crispy myself. We are warriors and what has helped me so much is looking back on how much I have managed to get through. You are going to sail through the hormone treatment and Herceptin and I know it seems a crap load to deal with when you have been through so much already but I honestly think this is a walk in the park. And if you ever find the off switch for the over thinking brain please let me know cause mine is almost burnt out at the rate I’m overthinking. Sending you loads of love xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh love your poor boob! I’m shuddering at the thought of its state and the I assume wincing pain. Hold on, it’ll repair! I’d send you a photo of mine to prove it but that is seriously weird and not quite helpful! As for your brain well what to say, cry when you feel like it and do what you need to keep going my friend, keep moving through it all, the other side after treatment is closer! Much love Sus xo

    Liked by 1 person

  4. First, congrats for finishing another stage in this cancer mess. I remember when I was finished with radiation — it hurt me more emotionally than chemo ever did. It could have been related to the fact that I was just then realizing what I had gone through and why (?). Or maybe there was something about being “done” that made me happy and scared all at the same time.

    But we are not completely done.

    The tamoxifen continues for me and although I am happy there is that option for me, I still wish I was really finished with all of it. So once again I adjust to the new changes. And for those who cannot adjust with me, I wish them luck.

    I hope your skin heals quickly and smoothly. Don’t wear tight clothing. Ask about sunscreen before going out — which one you can use and how often (and if you should).

    I stopped feeling pressured about being someone I can no longer be. I am no longer a people pleaser. In fact I’ve realized the only body I need to impress is mine (because it’s the only one I’ll ever have). I will pamper myself! I will continue to allow all my emotions/feelings to happen — I hope you would do the same too.

    XOXO

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Hi Kate
    Thinking of you and look how far you have come you amazing brave, strong woman x u inspired my mum everyday Kate. I know you can fight this in honour of her, other victims who lost and for yourself.
    You go girl!!!!! 💞💞💞
    x Love Shell

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Though I was fortunate enough to not have radiation, Saturday I noted the fourth anniversary of my last chemo. Life is “normal” again, but it’s a new normal, and it took a while to figure out what had changed in my body. I can only
    compare it to childbirth. You
    only learn how your body (and life) have changed by doing things. It’s hard to explain but I AM different than I was
    before cancer, and yet, I am
    exactly the same. It lingers there in the back of my mind – the knowledge that it could very well come back at any time.

    I have a good friend who died shortly before I was diagnosed of a cancer she didn’t know she had. In Oct.,
    she’d run a major marathon, and she was gone by January. And I have another dear friend who has another kind of cancer that she continues
    to fight just to stay alive a little longer. So although I rejoice that I’m still here, that joy is always touched by
    sorrow and guilt.
    This doesn’t mean you will feel the same. Clearly, everyone is different. I guess I’m just saying you shouldn’t be so hard on yourself. You have every right to feel however you feel about this. And you will get through it all, just as you have your treatment. Treat yourself kindly in your recovery year because, as my oncologist told me, cancer has a long tail. Give your body, your mind, and your spirit the time it needs to get to the end of that tail.
    Okay, off my soapbox. I’m wishing you the very best as you approach this next stage of your life.

    And if there are any weird typos or phrases I’m this comment, it’s because I typed it on my phone, which has a funny way of turning logical sentences into nonsense! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks Kate-when i turned 60 this year my thoughts turned to many things. What I realised is that now anything that happens and my view of anything is affected by layers and layers of experience, thoughts and past decisions. Nothing is simple and yet it is incredibly simple. I would be a lesser person without all those years of my past. What has happened to you has been intense and frightening and yet it will set you up for such joy and peace and wisdom in the future. These terrible and painful months have rocked you to your core, and you have faced many of the things you thought were solid turning to jelly beneath you. You are dealing with trauma and the way you have dealt with it, I admire and commend because you have shared with us, faced it head on and asked for help. i know these are the ways to healing. You will get there, much love, Catriona

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really love that idea or philosophy Catriona. I guess we really are a sum of all our parts aren’t we. At this point I just hope I am here to turn 60 too, so I can look back wisely as you have just done.
      x

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  8. I love this post, thank you for sharing.
    I haven’t started radio yet but I feel similar to you about life not being normal and the pressures that having cancer brings to life. I like your post so much if you dont mind I am going to give a link to it to people who insist that I ”must be happy, and I am almost done with it!” so they can see how I feel…
    I hope your burnt boob is healing well x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Of course – share the link. That’d be lovely. I’m glad it resonated with you. It’s a common feeling I think when you’re on the cusp of finishing treatment.
      In the end I healed quite quickly but I did end up with a staph infection post-rads, which was awful…but a month out I feel good.
      K x

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  9. Hi Kate, so sorry to hear your boob is so sore. I’m yet to start my radio (I have chemo no 4 next week so have a few more weeks yet). I so relate to your post and the overthinking brain! I sincerely hope as time passes that our minds are more gentle with us allowing us to live a little bit more normally. I’ve been told that positive things can arise out of a cancer experience…I’m not sure what that’ll be right now but I t’s something I try to keep in my thoughts. Take care xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Allie,
      I’m much better now. Rads was tougher than I expected but it does go quickly. It’s just draining going to hospital every day. All the best with your final chemo and then radiation treatment. I feel a lot better in myself now that the toughest part of treatment is behind me

      Liked by 1 person

  10. As for BREAST CANCER AWARENESS I’m sure some of us are aware enough of BREAST CANCER since we had to deal with it and maybe there ought to be more BREAST CANCER ACTION in terms of things like RESEARCH so one day we would no longer have to put our lives on hold for things like medical appointments and treatment sessions.

    Like

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