Radiation, Etc.

Today I’m almost half-way through radiation – think it will be 33 treatments, and today was number 16. So far, no side-effects to speak of – I’m starting to get a little bit of reddening, like a very mild sunburn. And I am tired – but I’m not sure whether that is the radiation or work, which is stressful right now – new administration who, of course, want to improve everything immediately.

The worst part is a calendula extract in petrolatum ointment – smells like marigolds (which it is – there’s a reason you plant it in the garden to repel bugs) – and is pretty gooey. But there was a large study in France that showed it reduced severe side-effects (referred to as “skin irritation from radiation therapy” but actually radiation burns ;-) which were 60% of patients in the comparison (an aloe-vera-based ointment) and only 40% with calendula ointment. So there you are – the best modern medicine has to offer for this is two ancient natural burn remedies.

Last week I had one of my every-three-week Herceptin infusions on Valentine’s Day, and an ex-patient sent a barbershop quartet to sing in the chemo room.

I’m driving myself to the daily radiation appointments – 12:45 every day, and they fit nicely into what would be my lunch hour, if I took a lunch hour. Radiation patients are much chattier in the waiting room than chemo patients – but we are in and out so fast that we tend to have serial conversations in daily installments – except when there is a new patient, which takes longer so the rest of us pile up, or equipment has to be repaired, as it was yesterday. None of us believed the guy ahead of me when he came out and said “I broke the machine!” – but we all had to wait while the repairman fixed it – about half an hour and we had a cozy chat.

Winter seems to have ended here – Wednesday last week was a high of 45 – today it was 80. I am *very* impatient for my hair to get longer – it is a centimeter (Hilde measured it for me Sunday) and I think it looks very chic – but too startling for work just yet. I told my brother it looks just like his in 4th grade when he had a very short early-sixties crew cut – I have the picture on the piano. I had Monday off and went to the clinic bare-headed – first time I’d gone out without the wig or a hat/scarf/etc. since August. The staff said it looked good – but then they have to be cheery with the patients, right?