So here it is! I am one year “out” of acute breast cancer treatment. September 19th, 2011 marks my final radiation appointment. The big stuff is now a year behind me and I could even volunteer at the hospital now if I want to (apparently they won’t let you volunteer unless you are a year or more out of treatment). I have just over 4 years left on Tamoxifen. I am not sure if they calculate everything based on how long you have been out of treatment or from date of diagnosis. I may just have to ask!
I went back through my photos to see what photos I took during radiation, I was surprised, yet not surprised by how few there were. I recorded a lot of my chemo treatment by taking photos, but very little of my life during radiation. Life consisted of waking up early to be the first to get zapped (ok, the machine makes a loud zapping noise, but it doesn’t feel like a zap), slathering on the Aquaphor (Amazon link) after, layering 2-3 shirts because I was fairly VERY greasy from the Aquaphor, heading to work, coming home and pretty much crawling into bed. My skin is completely healed and I only have a few spots that look permanently “tanned,” but that was mostly in my armpit where I seemed to react the most to the radiation, which people don’t see that often. I barely notice the radiation tattoos and the only people that really notice them know what they are looking for.
For some reason radiation was almost harder for me than chemo, but I stubbornly worked as much as was humanly possible, and I was the first appointment at 7:30 AM. I am not a morning person, so I was dragging my tired carcass out of bed super early so that radiation didn’t interrupt my workday. Last year my average bedtime was between 8-9 PM (ok, maybe 7 PM some nights…). I always wanted Mike to come to bed, but obviously he wasn’t tired, so he opted to watch every single Star Trek the Next Generation episode ever made on Netflix from start to finish (he set up a TV in the bedroom early on in my treatment in attempt to get me to stay in bed). I slept better with him nearby, and all of that sleeping on my back made me snore. I found that Star Trek was also great sleeping material (Captain Picard’s voice made a great lullaby). 178 total episodes. Mike met his goal (yes, we spent a lot of time sitting home last year), it did take quite some time for him to get there!
Wowee. It is one whole year later! My most recent news is that I got a promotion at work which is super exciting. My title changed, but my actual day to day job did not (maybe it will, you never know). This was a huge accomplishment. The company has gone from 260ish employees when I started to over 1,800ish today. What I was doing by myself 6 years ago now involves a team of 9 employees (including myself), the workload is much bigger of course. My team doubled in size last year. Interviewing potential employees in the middle of chemo is another story for another day. Haha. Sometimes I feel like I have my heart and soul invested in my job.
I have cut back the amount of daily cancer exposure I receive. I have hid organizations in my Facebook feed and most of the bloggers I follow have slowed down posting to a more similar pace as I (or have stopped posting). So I catch up on everyone a little less often (when less people are in the thick of things we spend more time living and less time writing), but love to hear how things are going when they do update!
My body is behaving a bit more and I am working on pain pilates. It has done wonders for my back and I actually really enjoy it, so I think I found “my thing.” I didn’t quite realize how atrophied my muscles had become until I started doing the beginner moves (I have been using this App on my iPad (iTunes) to learn, I have downloaded a couple similar applications, but the beginner moves in that one made it so I could work my way up to full workouts and intermediate/advanced within a couple of weeks). The one thing that is always very apparent in cancer research is how important it is to exercise for your health and for your well being. Mike says I am much more cheerful now that I have been exercising regularly again and I feel like I am sleeping better. Now if only I started losing those “menopause” inches around my waistline I will maybe be even more cheerful!
In case you missed it, here is the video I made to celebrate finishing treatment last year. I have trouble watching it now (in fact I didn’t watch it), but it was still a great experience for me to make it and “close the door” on active treatment. It was probably the first (and last) personal video I have ever made for YouTube.
We had a great time in Maui! We got back early this morning (or late last night). Mike won the trip at work earlier this year, but we had to wait until later this year so that I had adequate vacation time to go. We drove the road to Hana, visited various towns including Lahaina, Wailea and Kehei. We rented a Jeep so we spent a lot of time just driving around exploring. Here are some photos: