Radiotherapy, hair and boyfriend

Thursday, November 24th,

It was my first radiotherapy appointment !

Radiotherapy isn’t at all like chemo! No drugs nor IV! It’s radiation! Not nuclear but particle accelerator sent directly where the tumors were located! It burns the cell by dammaging its DNA and, in theory, only sane cells can repair themselves!

However, this increase risks for secondary cancer in the the region where the radiation happen! For me, since I’m a girl, it could be breast cancer! The doctor told me she will discuss it with me more in details  at the end of the treatment in case my breasts received a little radiation!

Secondary effects according to her are like discomfort to swallow, skin burns and fatigue mostly!

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Brown wig

 

 

 

 

I will not have heart radiation and only a very little radiation on my lungs! 

The only really annoying thing is that the appointments are EVERYDAY ! And that I take like 1h30 roundtrip house – hospital !

15 appointments in 3 weeks for a total dose of 30Gy.

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Blond wig

To avoid doing tattoos on my skin for radiation targets, they created a chest mold in resina ! When I get there, I lie on a table, they put it on me, it’s really tight, and then they fix the chest mold to the table so I litterally can’t move even one millimiter away!

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the wig collection

 

 

My boyfriend finally came, after 3 long months, it wasn’t really easy the distance and going through cancer and treatment for me like for him! We talked about it and I still was really happy to see him, even these 5 little days! We went to Nice and Barcelona ! I had a really great time and I hope to visit him as soon as I finish treatment ! I’m thankful he was here for me during treatment, even if he wasn’t really comfortable talking about the medical stuff! I was strong because I had him on my side too!

My hair that felt aren’t growing yet, but its normal, it should grow pretty soon! the one that stayed grew really weird and all thin and weak so I shaved everything again so they all can grow together now! 

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PET Scan Results !

Monday, October 17th

It was the moment I was waiting for since days with my parents. THE PET scan to see if chemo is working on me alright.

My doc already told me before that there is a great probability it is. And if not, there are other chemos and other treatments to try. So I tried to keep an optimistic mindset !

Once lying in the scanner, after an hour of IV perfusion with radioactive element, the assistant tells me

I’m gonna inject the iodine now. It’s going to feel like it burns. Don’t worry, it’s normal. Try to breath peacefully and it will be soon over! Good Luck!”

I’m like, what is he talking about ? I never got Iodine during my previous PET scan. And it started to burn. From my oesophagus to my bladder. And I wanted to pee so bad! Omg. Really not pleasant. Hopefully, it only lasted like 3 minutes. WOW

When I got out, someone tells me the doctor is going to see me for the results. My dad comes with me. I arrive in the little room where the doc is screening all the PET scans and writing the results down. There’s one screen showing a scan with a patient full of cancerous lymph nodes at upper level of the body. More than I had when I begin even. I’m like … Huh

“Hey Ms Sally, so I reviewed your PET scan and I don’t see any evidence that the cancer is left! Which means that once your treatment is over, you are done. Congrats!”

14813213_10209776425301280_1466929735_oThe Scan at the top is the recent one. The one below is from last July. And on the left at the bottow , the conclusion saying there is no detection of the cancer activity.

Of course, I start automatically shedding tears, very moved. My dad too! I smile and thank the doctor. Then my dad call my mum and the rest of the family. I hear them laugh of joy and it warms my heart. I barely can talk back to them as I’m still under a great deal of emotion. It feels AMAZING to know that I’m almost done spending my whole life at the hospital or sleeping because of treatments. And that I’m going to live. Not just months or few years. Just live.

My dad propose to celebrate at the restaurant. So we go and I get a delicious goat cheese and honey pizza. YUM

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SO WHAT’S NOW ?

Well, I still have 2 chemo rounds left and 3 weeks of radiotherapy. To secure the remission.

As you might already know, we don’t get instantly cured of cancer. We enter remission. Which means that the scanners and medical screenings can’t discern evidence of cancer. Which is of course amazing!
However, active or latent cancer cells can subsist in the body (and in my case, in my lymphatic system) and be undetectable. This is why I have to finish treatment to give me the best chance of complete remission without futur relapse.

Radiotherapy especially is going to irradiate little zones where I had cancerous lymph nodes and break the DNA of the cells around. Only sane cells can repair themselves and survive. The bad ones die.

So that’s the super news! I will finish treatments on the last day of radiotherapy, which is December 16th. Right in time for my 25th birthday and the year end celebrations !!

I feel so relieve to see the light at the end of the tunnel! And it gives me the motivation I needed after this past week to finish the battle!
Around 8 weeks after the last treatment (End of January – Beginning of February), I will have the final PET scan to confirm my official complete remission and to demonstrate that the cancer is not coming back right when the treatment stopped.

Then, I will have scans and doc appointments every 3-4 months and then 6 months during 5 years. After 5 years of clean scan, you are considered totally cured since risks of relapse for Hodgkin’s lymphoma after 5 years of remission are very rare or even inexistant!