Hot coal in my armpit …

I had a pretty good week. Went to radiation every day. Walked the dog on the beach every day. Have a nap every day. Make dinner with Gerry. It’s the same. Every day feels the same.

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Except that it’s not the same … there’s so many changes. I’ve been feeling a little more fatigue. So that means less running errands after radiation and more napping. So far I haven’t felt like the fatigue is debilitating but I also know how to handle my fatigue. I had Chronic Fatigue all through the 90′s … so I feel like that bout of illness has prepared me for this. It’s simple. When you’re tired … you must rest. :)

Although Gerry says I’m like a dog pulling at the end of my leash. So maybe I’m not so good at resting. Ha ha.

Another change is that I keep walking by the mirror thinking I have eyeliner on but it’s actually MY EYE LASHES!! They’re pretty weak and spindly but they are absolutely making their way back. Yippeee!

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My eyebrows (these are them make-up free) are becoming full again. It is the WEIRDEST feeling when I wash my face because I can “FEEL” my eyebrows. I have been washing my own face for over 40 years … and yet I got used to having a slick hairfree body so quickly. Ha ha.

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The hair on my head is coming in as well but I’m still shaving it once a week. It’s not very thick up top yet and so it looks like Captain Picard. I’m going to keep shaving it until the stubble starts to thicken. Plus I kind of enjoy being bald – it feels powerful for some reason.

This week I finally made it to the Relaxation Program at the Cancer Center. It’s on Thursdays at 1:30 and for some reason something always stops me from going. I finally made it a priority this week and went and now I wish I had done that sooner.

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All the patients lay on mats in a darkened room while someone talks you through a guided meditation. Before the meditation started we went around the room and talked about where our “happy place” was in times of stress.

Some of patients talked about beaches at sunsets or walking through the woods in the snow … I told everyone about my ET glowing chest visual that I use when I do my radiation and how I think of radiation as a Love Laser helping my body to be cancer free. Ha ha. I’m such a weirdo.  :)

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After going around the room the guide then used each of our “happy places” in the guided mediation. It was really fantastic. I almost burst out laughing when she started talking about love lasers. :)

During the meditation there are 3 volunteer “strokers”.

I know. “Stroker” sounds kind of porn-ish but they are wonderful. The strokers are the same volunteers who do the Theraputic Touch sessions. Their job during the guided meditation is to make sure you don’t fall asleep. If you do … they come over and gently “stroke your feet and legs” and it brings you back to that place of relaxation instead of deep sleep.

They also do energy work on each person. I had a stroker on my feet/legs and another stroker working on my shoulders/head/face. It made me cry a little.

You know when you’re a kid and you’re lying in your Mum or Dad’s arms and they are gently rubbing your head to make your stomachache or nightmare go away. You know that feeling? When’s the last time you felt like that?? It brought me so much comfort.

There was one patient who when she first walked into the room I could see how much sadness she had in her body. When the strokers were working on her she started to sob. It was so hard for me not to roll over and wrap her up tight in my arms but I had to remind myself that it wasn’t my job.

My job was to lay there and take care of myself. The strokers were there to help us when we needed it and they were doing an excellent job. It wasn’t easy but I redirected my energy back to me and tried to let go of my need to fix everything… My job right now is to take care of me. Nothing else.

To be able to lay in a comfortable safe place with no distractions for an hour and a half not only work on de-stressing my mind but take away some of the discomfort I’ve been feeling from the radiation was amazing. I walked out of there feeling like a new person.

I am now making both Theraputic Touch and the Relaxation Program a priority. I wish I had done it sooner … but perhaps I wasn’t ready for it just yet.  :)

The other big change is that by Thursday or Friday of this week my body started to get REALLY hot and uncomfortable from the radiation. I saw a nurse on Thursday so she could check everything and she said it looked sore but that I was doing pretty good considering how far along I am in the process.

It’s so crazy to think that the radiation goes all the way through my front to the back. My shoulder blade is looking pretty burnt. Luckily it’s not uncomfortable.

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It’s my front panel that’s getting hit the hardest. Especially in my armpit area. That’s where my tumor was and it is getting the most attention.

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My whole front panel from my neck to under my ribs is bright red. The photo doesn’t quite show how red I am… but trust me. It’s red.

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My armpit is the worst and I think it’s from the friction of my arms moving against my body.

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I’ve been doing everything they tell me to do. I cream/moisturize my body with the cream they suggested. I also have started doing saline soaks. They don’t suggest you do them until you start to get uncomfortable because the saline dries out the area and they want to keep the skin moisturized.

I am not allowed to use any other products on my skin …

I’m seeing the doctor on Monday and I’m going to beg for something for under my arm. It’s becoming VERY tender and painful. Last night I couldn’t sleep because it feels like there is a hot coal in my armpit.

I can’t do anything (like walk) because it rubs against itself and makes it even more sore. It’s almost impossible not to have my body rub against itself. So all day Friday I lay in bed like a corpse hoping that a day of rest would make my armpit feel better.

Nope.

Saturday was a write off too. I was able to do a little bit of laundry but then abandoned that and lay on the sofa for the rest of the day.

I’m hoping the doctor has some magic unicorn potion she can give me for my armpit because I have another 6 radiations to go and the nurse warned me that the burning from the radiation can last another couple of weeks even after I’m done.

You know when you roast nuts and you have to take them out of the oven a little bit before they look done because they keep cooking from the inside out? That’s what’s going on with me.

The good news is that once the radiation is over I can use any healing products I want on the area so I just have to focus on getting through these next 9 days.

Can you believe I only have 6 radiations left? … I never thought I’d get here.

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11 Responses to Hot coal in my armpit …

  1. Maria Wimmer says:

    Your honesty and grace through this process has been amazing to watch. We are counting down the days with you. How will you celebrate when you are done?

  2. J says:

    You should try this product for under your arm. It worked great for mom my when she was getting radiation. She used it instead of the flamazine cream they had given her to clear it up. It’s a cloth that has silver in it that wicks away the moisture. I know you can get it at the diabetic supply store by the foot and maybe some pharmacies.
    It’s called interdry.
    http://www.coloplast.ca/en-ca/productscs/skincare/productfamily?commcategory=Skin_Care_Accessories(Coloplast)

  3. Sneaky says:

    I know the standard recommendation is to NOT use oil based lotions during rads, but my RO said it was kind of hogwash and said I could keep using my homemade hippie coconut-oil based lotion and it worked for me. Everyone’s different though… hope you find what works for you. I remember reading how one woman tied pantyhose around her shoulder with a bulge of soft material and cornstarch stuffed in at the point where it would be under her armpit, so as to stop the skin from rubbing. I thought it was brilliant and looked forward to using her anti-friction panty hose ‘tire’, but I didn’t really need it (skin shed briefly 2 weeks post-treatment). Maybe something like this may help your pit in the home stretch. Best of luck!

  4. Sneaky says:

    Forgot to add, if you like the Relaxation classes then you’ll probably also like the Mindfulness based meditation program. Look into it… there tends to be a wait list. It rocked my world!

  5. Hi Sarah,
    Just read about your experience and sending you warm hugs. I hope you are feeling better these days. Stay strong through your lasts few session…. :)

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