Monday, May 16, 2011

Radiation and Other Spring Activities

I completed week 1 of radiation on Friday with very little drama (the server was down at the hospital on Thursday, so I had to come back later in the day, but I'm still on schedule!).  For those of you who don't know much about radiation (I suspect this is most of you), I'll describe it the best I can.  I told you in the last post that there are little black marks all over my chest, covered by little pieces of tape.  The first day of radiation lasts an extra long time because I have to have x-rays taken.  Basically, I change into a hospital gown and lay down on a table.  Then a green grid appears on my chest (kind of a laser light show) and 2-3 lab techs (who are all wonderful, lovely people) pull and tug on my gown until the green grid lines up perfectly with the marks on my chest.  This photo shows what the machine basically looks like.  The bed I lay on remains still (but my arms are back, behind my head, holding onto a handle bar), and the machine rotates around me, doing it's thing.  I imagine it's shooting little lasers at me -- it honestly all seems so sci fi when I'm laying there. 

 The normal routine lasts about 5 - 10 minutes from the time I lay down to when I'm allowed to relax my arms and get up off the bed. The most important thing to note is that I do not feel anything when the radiation is happening.  It's only a couple hours after treatment that I start to notice tightness and redness.  To remedy this, I simply do my physical therapy stretches and cover my chest in aloe.  The most annoying thing is the radiation burn (basically like a sunburn).  I have always prided myself on keeping my skin protected from sunburns, so to look down at my chest and see old-looking, leathery skin is no fun.  This is when I have to remind myself that it's so much better than breast cancer!  As of today, I have 22 treatments to go (4 1/2 weeks).
I've continued to get a positive response to my hair, along with requests for more pictures (sorry for the delay).  Here is the latest, taken last night:
In other news, our yard is looking fantastic these days, thanks to a little hard work and a lot of help from mom-in-law, who was here for Mother's day, and Jenny, who was here after my surgery.  I managed to plant a flower bed and was sore for a week afterward.  My body just isn't used to doing much of anything anymore.  But I'm building back up my strength and endurance, slowly but surely.
Flower bed in front of house -- vinca and impatiens

Foxglove on side of house

The most unusual-looking plant, leatherleaf mahonia, on side of house
Jenny, who visited at the end of March, with the self-watering container she constructed and tomato plant

Left:  tomato plant Jenny put in self-watering container.  Right:  same type of tomato plant that I neglected for way too long.  Guess which is healthier?

Herbs and other plants on back patio, now with fun green stands, thanks to mom-in-law

Gorgeous blue hydrangea bushes in the back yard

Front porch adirondack chairs painted and assembled by Aaron.  I picked out the paint color :)    


  1. Joyce, you continue to look fabulous, as does your yard! I hope the radiation treatments keep going well.

  2. Your hair is beautiful Joyce!! And so is the yard - nice work to you and your fellow green thumbs! Can't wait to see you this summer!