Things are moving a bit slower now that the bulk of treatments are done, so my updates have become more sporadic. Radiation was done August 8th and recovery has been the two weeks that I was told it would be. The Biafine cream was amazing. For someone that has really sensitive skin, I only developed burns under my breast in the crease and right at the tumor site where they boosted the radiation for the last four treatments. The Biafine cream kept my skin pristine, I was amazed. It is sad that the radiology staff did not recommend it or any specific cream at all.
The only wrinkle in the radiation treatment happened on day 14 of treatment. That evening as I got ready for bed I noticed a bright red mark on the right breast, in my cleavage, a dime red spot on my left underarm, and a discoloration in my arm pit. It did not hurt or itch, so I went to bed. At 1:30am I woke up in excruciating pain, feeling like I was going to vomit, and my arm feeling swollen from finger tips to arm pit. It was clear that the lymphatic fluid was blocked. When I started thinking about it I realized that when I laydown the red marks were in a straight line. It appeared that the radiation was off and they singed my armpit. I went into the cancer center early and spoke with one of the nurses. My goal was to make sure it did not happen again, or to another person. The nurse tried to convince me it was an allergic reaction because they do not radiate where the marks were. I did not really care what they wanted me to believe, I just did not want it happening again. When I spoke to the technicians, they took me seriously and did another x-ray to make sure everything was lined up properly. It did not happen again.
The result of the radiation of my arm pit had lingering effects. It took three to four weeks to heal the burns and get the lymphatic fluid flowing properly so the pain and swelling in my left arm went away. I decided to look at it to obtain all my tools for managing lymphatic fluid from now on. I am always at risk of lymphedema, so I need to be prepared to make sure it does not happen. The tools are:
- Working with a Physical Therapist
- Manual Lymphatic drainage exercises
- General exercise every day – I do one hour of movement a day
- A lymphedema sleeve – I will need to use this when I fly
- Use of Turmeric Chia Tea that helps to reduce inflammation
I will not lie, I was angry and frustrated. It significantly took me off track in getting my life back on track. My focus was always on managing my arm which made it difficult to work on other projects. I have successfully gotten my left arm back to normal, and I am playing with Orchestra Concordia this fall. I have experienced significant fatigue of my arm, but every week I feel an improvement.