Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I Can Do That

I met with Dr. Lotus, my radiation oncologist, today.  We meet once a week to discuss how things are going, answer questions I might have, and examine the area I am being radiated to check for any skin problems or irritation.

I pointed out a couple of areas I've noticed, on the left side of my neck, and an area of my breast where there is a crease.  In each of these areas, my skin is starting to tan, and my breast is a little tender.  I've been good about gently rubbing in the Miaderm cream after each treatment, and at night before bed.

Dr. Lotus said that the neck is a very common area to show some reaction, as well as any areas where skin touches skin.  For now she said these changes are typical, and we'll keep an eye on them.  She also asked me about my fatigue.  I told her I'm not experiencing any more than usual.  I know I'm still recovering from the months of chemo and the surgery, and all of that was going on before I started radiation.  I feel as if I have energy in two or three hour spurts, and then I need to rest.  Most afternoons by 4 p.m. I need to take a nap.  I don't always sleep, but I need to lay down.

I asked her if there was any update on when I'd finish radiation; it's based on the length of time she scheduled and/or how long my skin holds up.  She said she'd probably know within the next week or so, and figured I'd either be done the 7th of January, or the 14th.  I hope it's the 7th!

Our meeting was fairly quick; I also met with the registered dietitian who is on staff at the Cancer Center.  I'm going to call her Montana, since her real name is another state's name.  I really enjoyed my discussion with her, and let her know my goals regarding my weight.  We discussed what I usually do for exercise. which had been walking and swimming.  I explained to her I wasn't doing either now; the walking became difficult when the neuropathy set in, and Dr. Lotus does not want me in the pool till after I've finished and recovered from radiation.

I explained to her I wasn't really sure what things I could do given my limitations right now, and would really appreciate some suggestions.  I explained that generally I eat healthy foods, but I am a healthy eater!

Montana had some great suggestions for me to try this week; I'll see her again next Wednesday.  First, to start managing my portion control.  For instance, I told her I eat nuts every day, usually almonds, but after our discussion, I realized I've been eating too much of them.  I should only have about a 1/4 cup per day.

She also suggested I have my dinner on a salad plate.  If I'm still hungry and would like another plate, then she recommended that the second portion should only be salad or more veggies or fruit.

She also said I need to spread my meals throughout the day.  For years, I've had a tendency to not eat most of the day, work my server shift, then come home and eat dinner at midnight.    Montana said this sabotages my metabolism (and the proof is every time I step on a scale!).  When you don't eat all day, she explained, your body thinks it's being starved, and wants to hold onto energy, i.e. stored fat.  She recommended I eat smaller meals, but make sure I eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a snack at 10 a.m., and a snack around 2 p.m.

I don't eat like that at all.  I usually have either breakfast or lunch, I don't usually snack during the day.  Then around 5 p.m. I'm really hungry, and start grabbing nuts and fruit and celery, and then I eat dinner around 7 or 7:30 p.m.  I have noticed, when I do eat breakfast and lunch, my hunger during the late afternoon and at dinner is very manageable.  I know I get into a danger zone by entering that time of day starving.  I'm going to switch that around and will report back to you.

Montana also recommended I use my large exercise ball to sit on while watching TV with the family in the evening.  She explained that even just sitting on the ball and maintaining balance requires the core muscles to work.  She also said if I have some small free weights, which I do, I could sit on the couch and do arm exercises, and even leg lifts.  I thought these were some great ideas to keep me going while I'm still in treatment, and my neuropathy is still an issue.

I may have already mentioned to you my physical therapist told me that with my doctor's referral, I am eligible for a Cancer Wellness Program in the same location as I receive my physical therapy.  It's a 12 week program where patients meet with a trainer, a dietitian, and other counselors to work through any residual physical problems from treatment.  It's also designed to teach healthy lifestyle changes which can better your odds against a recurrence.

Dr. Lotus and I discussed this, she has already made the referral for me.  I can start the program anytime, although she recommended I start after radiation so I can get the full benefit of it.  I decided that is a great way for me to kick off the New Year, and celebrate the completion of surviving nine months of CANCER TREATMENT.  I'm really looking forward to it, and the new and improved me.

Gosh am I ready to look good, feel good and be uber healthy!  I will give this to me.

I can do that.

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