Radiation Rewind

As of today, I have completed 10 rounds of radiation! Only 18 more to go, oh joy!

For me, radiation is very unlike chemotherapy. I honestly feel like a professional at ingesting chemo cocktails, however, I’m such a novice at receiving laser beams. I tell you what, chemo is easy compared to these radioactive beams. Because I’m sure plenty of you are wondering what radiation treatment is actually like, I’ll explain. First off, I lay on a small table-like board. No cushions, just hard surface. I’m in a huge room with 4 red laser beams aimed right at me. If I didn’t know better, I would think the world’s best snipers had it out for me. There is an extremely large machine that moves like a transformer to the several positions it’s required to. Once my radiation therapists have lined me up correctly, they walk out of the room, and within minutes I hear the machine start up. This transformer is controlled by my therapists and slowly moves around my body to certain positions. All of the lasers are aimed at my pelvic region. Treatment itself is pretty quick. I think I end up laying there for about 10 minutes, give or take a few depending on the day. My radiation sessions are super easy. I don’t feel a thing, and laying there completely still isn’t that difficult. It’s what follows treatment that I hate.

Like I’ve shared before, my body has reacted fairly well to chemotherapy. Besides the obvious of losing my hair and being more tired than usual, there hasn’t really been many side effects. I still, to this day, have not thrown up. That doesn’t mean that I haven’t had an overall queasy feeling, it just means nothing has come up. Praise God for that. Radiation has been different to my body. Because treatment is aimed at a certain area, and the lasers purpose is to annihilate a very specific and localized region, my lower stomach has been very sore. I expected this, so it wasn’t a shock, but that doesn’t make it any easier. I have never been so thankful for summer, as I am nowadays. I physically can’t wear anything with a waistband any longer, because of the pressure it puts on my stomach. It’s sore from the inside out, and feels similar to what it did immediately after my hysterectomy. Summer dresses are now my best friends. I can happily announce that my skin hasn’t gotten red or blistered. Really, the sensitivity in my stomach is what bothers me most. In addition, I’ve been more tired than I am during my 3-day chemo cycles. These laser beams are intense. Not only are they ripping my insides apart, but my body is trying hard to recover, which in turn makes me exhausted. If I could stand being still for a long period of time, I’m sure I would take more naps. Unfortunately, cancer treatment tends to make me feel lazy, and I fight it as hard as I can. In fact, call me crazy, but I just got a gym membership… My body is going to hate me.

Here’s something new: I’m growing my hair back. And I’m surprisingly not happy about it. It’s such a hassle! Plus, I know that once I’m done with this portion of treatment, I’ll head right back to the chemo drugs that promote hair loss again. So, can’t it just stay gone until I’m through?! Of course not. My hair loss has actually been completely different than what I expected throughout my journey. As you know, during this portion of my treatment, I’m receiving radiation every day (5 days a week) with a weekly dose of chemo. This specific type of chemo drug that I’m receiving now does not cause hair loss, hence why it’s all coming back. That’s something I didn’t know prior to this adventure. I thought chemo automatically equated hair loss. But, as I’m learning, that’s not the case. When I went through my first 3-day chemotherapy cycles, I did lose my head hair, but not the rest of my body hair. For example, I’ve still had to shave my legs as often as I did prior to diagnosis. What crap, huh!? A benefit of not losing all my body hair is that my eyelashes and eyebrows have hung on for most of the ride. Recently, I’ve started wearing false eyelashes because my naturals are getting quite a bit thinner. My underarm hair disappeared during my first 3 cycles, but now has returned along with the hair on my head. My arm hair has remained constant throughout. I’m proof that hair loss is not equal during cancer treatments. I’m just hoping it all gets back on the train once treatment is over. Here’s to praying and hoping for thick and fast growing hair in the fall…head hair, of course!

Can I take a quick minute to thank all my followers and supporters? Wait, I don’t need permission…this is my blog. My deepest thanks to those who continue to walk this journey with me, those who follow my story, those who support me, and those who spend hours and hours praying for my healing. Thank you for taking time out of your busy days to follow my adventure through my diagnosis. You touch my heart and impact my life tremendously, and I truly value it.

My adventure will continue for a lifetime. Cancer will only be a chapter. Although there are days where I can’t find the least bit of sunshine in the storm, I refuse to stop paddling. Cancer won’t drown me.

Psalm 5: 11-12 (ESV)

“But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you. For you bless the righteous, O Lord; you cover him with favor as with a shield.”

3 Comments on Radiation Rewind

  1. donnajeanne
    May 18, 2012 at 9:24 PM (12 years ago)

    oh, Stephanie, the fact that you are clinging to the Lord through all of this, and the incredible verses you put at the bottom of your posts are so deeply encouraging..
    Thank you for letting us “ride along with you” in your journey, as you trust in the Lord to get you through.
    May the One you are trusting in give you all the peace and comfort you need through this roller coaster ride, may you sense His presence with you, and His healing touch in each and every experience you go through.
    I am encouraged reading your blog…thank you for that. Thank you for being honest about the hard parts!
    Love from Austria, Donna Jeanne Schneider

  2. KC Dierenfield
    May 19, 2012 at 1:00 AM (12 years ago)

    Thanks Steph, for your blog entry. In the midst of it all, you still find the time and strength to update us all of this part of your journey. It helps us to better pray for you. I am so very thankful that God’s grace has helped you during these chemo and radiation treatments. You bring us along on your journey to help us get a glimpse of what you’re feeling and experiencing. It is apparent that your FAITHFUL FATHER becomes bigger and bigger and more intimate to you as time goes on. You’re proof that you can’t measure how big your God is by how big your problem is, but you measure how big your problem is by how big your God is! (I sure hope I said that right) Keep paddling, Steph and don’t give up. God is and will continue to be your LIFE PRESERVER during this storm with all your faithful prayer warriors who continue to lift you up in prayer to help carry your burden to the Lord so you don’t drown….keep paddling with your eyes off the storm and onto Jesus and with each stroke and God’s gentle Hand laid on yours, will help you paddle and stay afloat.
    Love you Steph and will never stop praying for you! KC

  3. Susie Goodew
    May 21, 2012 at 11:49 AM (12 years ago)

    Thank you, Steph, for putting up another blog. It is good to hear how things are going and feel like I can pray more intelligently.

    We love you and will keep on praying. God is so good in the storm and out of the storm.



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