Thursday, May 21, 2009

Finally...Some Answers

I'm finally turning the corner - emotionally that is. This week I have better direction on what is causing the radiation effects and an answer to the swelling in the my left neck which has gone on for two years. All are much to be grateful for.

I've also decided to turn my focus away from the cancer and more on making my life even more meaningful than it is already.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Radiation After Effects

So it's now 5 months post-radiation treatment. If you recall, when the treatment ended at the end of December 2008, I experienced a folliculitis of the treated skin area that took nearly 2 months to resolve. The dermatologist tried 3 different approaches to resolve it, including a biopsy (just showed inflammation and nothing else), and finally it went away when all three medications (topical antibiotic, steroid cream, anti-fungal cream) were applied.

Fast forward to this week... My affected breast is very warm to the touch, still pink, and painful at the boost site area as well as under my armpit where it feels swollen at times, particularly in the morning when I swear I can feel the lymph nodes. The pain is becoming more constant, particularly after the breast has been touched. So I called the breast surgeon, whose nurse referred me back to the radiation oncologist, whose office arranged for a visit that day.

The radiation oncologist advised me that it was NOT cancer, but rather a hyperreaction to the radiation treatment which occurs in 1-2% of all people who receive radiation (aren't I the lucky one?). He recommended 2 courses of treatment -heavy steroids (8 weeks) which would provide optimal results or Motrin 800 mg three times a day for 3 weeks. I made no treatment decision at the time of the visit because I think the treatment is a bit harsh to start out the gate with, and will follow up with him again in August since he says there is no harm in waiting it out a bit longer.

The day after that visit, I received a call from the radiation oncologist, who had done a bit more research, and recommended that I should try a short course of antibiotics for 10 days to make sure that the inflammation is not bacterial in nature. He ordered a broad spectrum antibiotic. If it improves the situation, I'm to see him at his office. If not, I'll give him a call to advise.

Now...with my 20/20 hindsight, maybe I shouldn't have done the radiation, but then I wouldn't have done the full battle plan and would have more about the cancer returning. Too late now to speculate about what could have been.