Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Six Week Radiation Follow-Up

I had my six week follow-up appointment with Dr. Lotus today, my radiation oncologist.  It was great to see her and all the radiation staff.  I have really missed them.  The medical staff that take care of you during cancer treatment become so important to you, and it's easy to get attached to them.  As great as it is to finish, it's hard not to have them part of your day to day.  It feels weird, like something is missing.

During my exam with her we talked about the changes I've noticed since completing radiation, most of which I've talked about here on the blog.  Namely -

Architectural and skin appearance differences between Flopsy and Mopsy.  Flopsy is swollen, lumpy, thick, still fairly red, the pores on that breast are very apparent, and the scar underneath is not healing as well as on the right.

Continued and growing tightening and numbness under my left arm and down into my ribcage.

Dr. Lotus assured me that this can be typical in the weeks after radiation.  There is often a buildup of scar tissue and continued swelling.  I talked to her about my concerns when I do get reconstructed.  I pointed out how Mopsy, my unradiated side, is soft and malleable and just like an empty pocket waiting to be filled.  Flopsy is like lumpy mashed potatoes and not so much a pocket.  The appearance of Flopsy is not as nice as Mopsy.  Oh dear, will Flopsy always be the ugly sister from now on?

Dr. Lotus explained that my plastic surgeon will remove some of the scar tissue and some of the skin changes will get better, but I'm getting the feeling that symmetry between the two will not be an easy accomplishment.

She was happy to hear The Good Witch had renewed my physical therapy prescription, and recommended I talk with my lymphedema therapist about learning massage techniques for my breast that may help smooth out some of the scar tissue prior to reconstruction.  I also discussed my gynecological concerns, and she was glad those were being addressed.  She suggested I go ahead and make an appointment with the mastectomy bra specialist to see what she might be able to fit me with.  I had kind of given up on that, but I will go and see what they might come up with for me.

We talked about my volunteering at the Cancer Center, and my interest in participating in a support group there specifically for breast cancer patients.  She was enthusiastic and supportive of my interests.  It was great to see Dr. Lotus and chat with her.  I realized after I got home, I forgot to ask one of my important questions.  Is my skin ready for the pool?

I called back to the office, and she was quick to get on the phone with me to discuss.  She thought it would be best if I waited a couple more weeks to allow some of the redness on that breast to calm down, and give the scar underneath more time to heal as well.

I have always appreciated how Dr. Lotus provides her patients with easy access to her, and she is very thorough in answering questions and explaining things.  She's also quick to return a phone call, or even talk to you right when you call.  I admire how she has incredible followup and follow through.  All of these make a patient in treatment feel acknowledged, validated and valued.

Unless I have a question or concern, I won't see her again for six months.

Every day my connections to cancer treatment are falling away, and although I miss the staff so much, I don't miss the weight of treatment on my spirit.  I can feel myself transitioning from patient to survivor, and it feels good.

Real good.


Beneath the Eaves said...

I am so happy for you. May the blessings continue as the treatments end.Time to catch your breath. You have my heart WGD.

Mollye said...

Recovery of any kind is amazing and such a sweet miracle. Feeling good with you today.

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