New Side Effects, New Sizes, New Fashion, New Season

Radiation is not fun. Now, on the spectrum of not fun things this year it’s probably not as bad as chemo, but in some ways it’s more insidious than the surgery. With surgery each day was an improvement, now I slide downhill. After surgery, the pain was moderate (when asked what my pain threshold was a friend answered for me – DUDE, she took tylenol a day after her double mastectomy). But, this is uncomfortable, painful, and daily.

I have never had that wonderful skin that bronzes beautifully and glows happily in the sun. I have been blessed with a fair complexion that freckles and burns and makes keloid scars for even a mole removal. Ironic that I thought skin cancer would be my bane. I like my skin in general, but all of a sudden, a curse – red as a lobster on impacted areas, tender from swelling on areas where I would LIKE to wear a support undergarment and rosacea of the face somedays. My doctor proscribed daily rinses – “so it won’t peel” – great, not even a chance of a sun tan after all this? I find myself daydreaming of times naked in one of Davis’ old shirts.

So much has changed – I find shopping therapeutic in ways it never was before. Part of it is I keep trying to find things that flatter my new strange-to-me-shape. I try to find things that work in pixie haircut land. Accentuate the positives, right? Just when I feel like I have a little wardrobe for summer it turns 50 here! I scramble – no pants! Which sweaters? What shirts? I have discovered the magic of tunic shirts and leggings.

I finally took everything out of my closet that I can’t wear right now. It was exhausting but so was the feeling of looking at it every day and wishing I could fit into it again. I’m realistic – there is likely a chance I will, but there’s also a chance I won’t – my five year dosing of tamoxifen may impact my body into fat hoarding.

Regardless I have to say I am thoroughly confused when I do shop – I can figure out what size to get for tops, but is it just me or are the sizes for bottoms crazy? I can’t find something that fits my waist – and my bootie – without falling off my thighs or being two inches too long. I am going to -ack- actually go shopping for jeans and try on different sizes and shapes and models. Does anyone like doing that?

Though I have won the battle against cancer, the war continues – and I want you to remember this. When we are cancer free, we are not always treatment free. When we are done with chemo the hard part is not always over. Hug your survivor friends, love them through and past the first battle because the hits keep on coming., You like your hair – sorry. You like your waist? Cancer will take that too … and forget about the silhouette. How about your metabolism? Mood? Skin sensitivity? Ability to get to sleep? Now I’m left with my sparkling wit and personality. Good thing I have a fantastically supportive husband. Along with adoring friends and family and three amazing children of course.

There it is, the thread back to happy.

And, the news that only 13 more treatments of radiation. 6 of those with the dreaded bolus. In radiation therapy, bolus is a material which has properties equivalent to tissue when irradiated. The bolus is laid on my skin toΒ  increase the skin dose – yup that’s right, to make my skin MORE red. Run cancer baby cells. You cannot hide.


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36 responses to “New Side Effects, New Sizes, New Fashion, New Season

  1. We had a battle against cancer, and we won. You can do it with strength, team work, staying positive, and a sense of humor. But you seem to have these already, so you’re well armed.



  2. You are awesome. Thanks for reminding us of our blessings, and the thread back to happy.

  3. Fight, never stop. I’ll be reading and cheering you on.

  4. I applaud you for your approach at dealing with such a hard hand to play in life. You have kept your wits about you through something that most of us can truly never comprehend. It sounds like you have an amazing family to support you through this and I want to tell you that I’m rooting for your road to recovery 100%. Your story, humor, and perspective about the hardships of treatment are to be admired. Keep fighting the fight, you are winning this battle!

  5. Wonderful blog, thanks for sharing. I begin radiation in Novemnber, can you explain the “rinse”…what do you do and is it helping? I don’t have as fair skin as you, but I am not looking forward to the burning either. Anything can help, right?

    • WOW. I have a lot of emails in my inbox! Guess that’s what happens when I get Freshly Pressed – what fun.
      I am sorry that you are going through something similar. My radiation oncologist here in Austin meets with me every week. At first everything was manageable with lotion and aloe vera. Then it started hurting more and he gave me lidocaine. This week it got really bad and he gave me a rinse I put on a rag – domeboro: aluminum sulfate tetradecahydrate calcium acetate monohydrate astringent solution … that was off the package (goodness!) REALLy helped with redness pain and swelling but Thursdays and Fridays are always rough … good luck and email me if you want any advice or just an ear!

      • Thanks for a quick response. I’ll met with my Dr every Monday, now armed with options (I’m sure she knows about), but I like to be informed! Keep up the great blog, writing has been a very healing and helpful tool to share and cope for me, I pray you are having the same experience. You at
        Re in my prayers, as are all our sisters in this journey. God bless

  6. Thanks for sharing your journey here. Hope you reward yourself after each treatment until you’re done!

  7. You’re awesome…an inspiration to continually count our blessings! πŸ™‚

  8. Chewy

    Thank you for sharing and I wish you the best of luck in getting back to so e sort of sense of normalcy. I have some knowledge of how hard it can be as I helped my mother with her struggles. I’m happy to see that you’re well enough to keep your wits about you. πŸ™‚

  9. “There it is, the thread back to happy.”

    Very inspirational. I can’t say I understand what you’re going through, but I’m grateful you’ve given us a glimpse of your life. It seems like you have such a wonderful family, and I personally know during my own struggles there’s nothing like the love of my family to keep me moving forward. I really wish you the best through your recovery.

  10. i admire your strength and positive outlook. you’re an inspiration!!! i just lost a childhood friend to cancer 2 weeks ago, she was the strongest, most positive person i ever met. she fought for many, many years and it really is incredible that there are so many other strong, positive people out there, who are not giving up the fight, just like her. ❀

  11. Wondeful post, thanks for sharing! You seem like a very strong person, keep up the fight!!!

  12. I love the way you seem to embrace dealing with even the negative changes in such a positive way, like finding different styles and what works for you with the changes. I hope that time will let you get back the body you had to leave behind with the medications. Your strength is inspiring and therefore I’m glad you are posting and sharing.

  13. Thanks for this inspirational blog. Your family is beautiful and I love the pixie cut. It’s great that your sense of humour is buoying you. Not long to go. All the best πŸ™‚

  14. This is an awesome post! Thank you for opening your heart and life and sharing. Keep moving forward. The best to you and your family. Freshly Pressed — congratulations!

  15. It’s good to read stories like yours, as it is clear that attitude is everything when it comes to fighting a major disease such as cancer.

    My mother just had her first round of chemo for cholangiocarcinoma, which is really bad among cancers, so a lot of adjustments are still to come for all of us…

    • If she needs some more laughs and support, read some of my back blogs – chemo was awful but it did its job. Thinking of your Mom and her journey and stay posted … attitude makes a HUGE difference (as does having supportive loving family which you are!)

  16. you really have my support!! Blogs like this give me hope. Thank you

  17. myninjanaan

    This post couldn’t have come at a better time. We just found out yesterday that my father is no longer in remission. Although his cancer is different that what you have gone through (he has multiple myeloma), your words have taken such a huge burden off of my chest. I pray that you may find strength in your fight, and may you and your family forever remain healthy and happy πŸ™‚

    • I hope it goes well for your father. This is an insidisous, persistent disease and no fun to battle. But having family and complete strangers on your side helps in ways it’s difficult to articulate. Thank you for your comments and I will think of your father …

  18. I used to imagine the horrible glaring light and heat was a healing sun, zapping out every bad thing that ever happened to me, out of my life. (it was a very rough year) I visualized like I’d never done in my life. I ended that treatment and year a much lighter and positive person. (And calendula ointment – Whole Foods – did wonders.)
    This will one day, I hope, be a blip in your memory. (and don’t worry, you can get that waste-line back!) Sending you some cooling-healing energy!

    • Maybe I can start pretending I’m in Hawaii. But I just peeled my skin in my armpit. Not something I’ve done on any vvacation. Thanks for the ointment rec! Peace and love to you!

  19. You are such an inspiration dear. I am new to this site. First blog I read and I was moved…. You are a strong person and thank you for sharing your story… God bless…

  20. Reblogged this on allaboutbenj and commented:
    A very inspiring blog…

    • Thank you SO much. I have found blogging to be a catharsis for me – and it has led me to such wonderful and supportive people. I am still going and still battling but with the strength of others … I hope you stay in touch …

  21. Thank you. For sharing your thread with all of us.

  22. I took alot of time starting to write this comment, i didnt know what exactly to say to you that u have a good sense of humor and writing and fighting, but i think instead i’ll just tell u that buying jeans is crazzzzy…. nothing fits me too… if u look at me, i look petite and skinny…. but there s either smth seriously wrong with the proportionate size of my thighs against my butt, or its just the weird shapes and sizes they make…. whatever fits my thighs is loose on top, otherwise they just dont fit my thighs… thighs it is!!…writing truly makes you figure out the unanswered puzzles
    May God give you strength and health πŸ™‚

    • If you have any suggestions of places that have worked for you – I’m all ears! I have blocked out two days this week to go jeans shopping πŸ™‚ At least it’s a little annoying but somewhat normal compared to the rest of my ailments. Thanks for your note and comments. I hope to hear more from you! (and any suggestions on the jeans!)

      • mirrormon

        I would love to give suggestions but i think we might be at some massive distance… I m in Pakistan… I don’t like levi’s jeans, unlike popular trend, they dont fit me well… local brands like riverstone and stoneage have good jeans for me… but i think these suggestions might not be much use to you :)..
        but seriously i hate taking a few dozen pairs in the try room and then come out with zero success

  23. Love your courage and your new pixie do! You are blessed to have a loving and supportive family around you. Wishing you continued courage and strength.

  24. Kiersten

    Thank you for your post! Your hope and optimism during this hard time says a lot about you. Don’t give up!

  25. You go girlfriend!! Pray! My Mom was a 15yr b.c. survivor! She had a lumpectomy (8/13 lymph glands removed were infected!) chemo and radiation. Took tamoxifen and then took arimidex per her Dr.

  26. My skin cancer was scary, but I cannot imagine what you are going through.

    You are in my thoughts and prayers.


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