Thursday, November 17, 2011

Radiation planning complete

Today's radiation planning session went very well.  It took about 30 minutes for the technicians and doctors to get me placed properly and calculate where to place the dreaded tattoos.  I've heard some horror stories about having to stay in the same position with your arms over your head for up to 45 minutes.  I'd say that I was in that position for just a few minutes, maybe less than five.  Then I was allowed to relax my arms while they were back in their "command central" doing whatever they do.  There was one CT scan (which showed those notorious internal mammary nodes to be looking normal) which took less than a minute.  The doctors and technicians came out a few times to check and make sure I was comfortable.  After they were sure about placement, the techs came out and one of them did 6 quick tattoos.  They didn't hurt physically - very small needles were used.  I asked about alternatives to the "lifetime" reminders but they had nothing to offer.  Only one is likely to ever be visible to the public - it is in my "v-neck" area.  And if my skin had any freckles or marks at all in that area, it would probably blend in and be unnoticed.

Dr. Harris told us that they will be able to radiate my chest wall without involving my heart and lungs.  That is very encouraging as heart and lung damage has been a real concern.   The electron beam technology allows them to calculate angles that can direct the radiation to the right areas and avoid damage to vital organs. 

While we were waiting for the valet to fetch our car, I got a call from my medical oncologist and she informed me that my tumor markers (CA 27.29 test) were in the normal range.  The top of the range is 38 and I was at 34.  That's ten points less than they were seven weeks ago, so I am happy about that.

Today's round trip to Boston was just over four hours.  We didn't encounter any unusual traffic on the way in, but it was raining a little when we left for home.  And we were leaving just after 3 p.m. which is the beginning of the evening rush hour.  Hopefully with the upcoming holidays, we'll be able to trim some time off this run.  With students going on semester break and workers using up leftover vacation time, the traffic should gradually decrease during December.   


  1. It's too bad they haven't figured a way of making those tattoo's into something.


  2. Michelle, first of all, your hair looks GREAT! It's really growing! Neat color, too.

    I had no idea all you have had to go through to be a survivor of breast cancer. I want to thank you for helping me understand and see what you do, Michelle. You describe things so well. I know you'll also helping other people who are either going through this too, OR may someday have to face the same battles. I'm really surprised that they can't come up with something different. I see fake tattoos at festivals. How long do those tattoos have to be there? If I were you, I'd look for something pretty special and unique to incorporate into that dot...a tiny butterfly, an art design, something small and smart looking. I don't understand where on your neck you're talking about. Also, can that be made into the color of a freckle by a tattoo artist?

    That's so wonderful that your tumor markers are going down. You must feel so much more relieved. You're doing so good, Michelle. You are! You have come such a long way, and are doing so well.


  3. Michelle, it's so great that the docs will be able to protect the vital organs during the treatments. I know you were very concerned about that. My thoughts are with you every step of the way.

  4. That drive is a bummer, but in the end it will all be worth it.


  5. This all sounds so well-planned. I wish you well and I know every one of your medical team is doing their best for you. I feel confident that all will be well.