I’ve spent the past couple of months seeing any doctor with the term “oncologist” attached to their title. Radiation Oncologist. Medical Oncologist. So many people have touched my left breast, the right one is getting an inferiority complex.
I was completely clueless going into this. Coming up with a treatment plan is like being part of a semi-well-oiled machine. The Surgeon meets with the Medical Oncologist. The Medical Oncologist meets with the Radiation Oncologist. And because all of my doctors are from different countries, The Philippines, Spain & Austria, I like to imagine a little UN conference going on over the fate of my left breast. Or what’s left of it.
After several meetings & one big test that got a piece of Lefty sent out to California, it was determined that I did not need chemotherapy.
Phew. Dodged that bullet.
Of course I have such issues with my hair, it would have been nice to get a fresh start.
So now I’ve started Radiation Therapy. Or as I like to call it – Tanning. I go tanning every day, Monday through Friday. Of course, I’m only tanning a one foot section of my chest, and it will end up looking more like a bad sunburn than a tan, but it amuses me. And this way, I don’t have to call my boss over the walkie-talkie & say, “Hey. I’m leaving for my daily radiation treatment.” He knows where I’m going for that hour every day so it’s easier to just say that I’m going tanning. Bonus: It confuses the people who I’m not really close to & don’t really want to have the discussion with. One of the guys at work has said that he thinks I’m really going for a nooner every day. And since I don’t really get to eat lunch & end up shoving something in my mouth while I’m in my car, it kind of sounds like it could be a nooner.
Some things I’ve observed during my daily sojourn:
– I’m glad the johnnies smell like bleach. I’m comforted by the idea that these things have been bleached to the point that any living organism that may have clung to it from the previous patient is actually now extinct.
– Speaking of johnnies, the sign on the bin of clean johnnies that reads, “Please put soiled johnnies in the basket” is just a nice way of saying “If you wore it, put it in the hamper”. Just because you didn’t actually “soil” it does not mean it goes back in the bin with the clean ones. I won’t touch a johnnie in that bin that doesn’t look like it’s been folded there for at least a week.
– Another note on johnnies – I’m eight treatments in & I still can’t figure out how to tie these suckers. And you’re supposed to wear two. One with the opening in the front & one with the opening in the back. Really? There’s so many strings attached it’s like an Italian man and his mother. Maybe after I finish all 30 treatments I’ll have it figured out.
– Because you go for treatments at the same time every day, you see the same people every day as they’re coming & going from their appointments. Note to the older gentleman who goes before me: Please put the toilet seat down. Every freaking day I go in & it’s up. But thanks for the tip on the cafeteria food. Maybe I’ll give it a try sometime.
– That room is cold. And it’s winter. Kind of makes me wish I had brain cancer so I wouldn’t have to take my clothes off for treatments.
– Because of privacy laws, hospital rules & the fear of malpractice suits, I have to state my name & birthdate twice before I get on the table. Little joke that only my medical professional friends will get: “Knock Knock.” “Who’s there?” “HIPAA.” “HIPAA who?” “Can’t tell you.”
– And finally, I have the best rad techs. (Julie is my favorite, but don’t tell the others.) Somehow with all they see in a day & all the sick people they treat, they are the most upbeat, positive people I think I’ve met throughout this entire saga. I would not be getting through this every day without such a great group.