Friday, July 29, 2011

On the radiation table and triathlon training

I haven't blogged in a while. Since I last blogged, I got convinced to come back to Sloan Kettering for yet more treatments. And I'm also training for Lake George Triathlon on September 3rd.

All I can say is that I thought I was done. They keep thinking of new treatments to give me. I thought I was cancer free. They just don't want to let me go just yet. The radiation oncology chief told me that those pesky cancer cells could conceivably return to the chest wall. There's a 17% chance they will. Something about the presence of "vascular invasion" (i.e. cancer in the bloodstream in the breast) and those multiple fast growing tumors that were removed at surgery in January could have shed some cells, not killed by chemotherapy.

But I thought chemotherapy was going to kill everything in my body that wasn't supposed to be there? That's why we did it, right? Isn't that why I lay in bed after chemo with waves of nausea, but kept going back for more?

Well, apparently not. The radiation oncologist feels that radiation is just the thing I need to absolutely make sure, positively, that the cancer will not come back. At least not to the chest wall. Maybe I shouldn't have asked him in the first place. I mean, after all, he is in the business of dispensing radiation. I wonder if he ever actually recommends skipping radiation? That couldn't be good for his business.

So given the radiation oncologist's recommendation, and my inability to locate any scientific information to prove him wrong, I am back. The radiation table awaits me at 8am, Monday through Friday, for 28 treatments. Today was number 8. At least it gives me something else to blog about.

When I think about it, 28 to me seems like a random number. If 28 is good, why isn't 20 good enough? Maybe 28 is overkill. Though, admittedly, I have absolutely no knowledge about the adequate amount of radiation doses.

So far, no sunburn and no major side effects. Just some lingering pressure in my pec muscles, which are apparently part of the radiation field. The swimming seems to help. Also just not thinking about it seems to help a lot too. It's the kind of pressure that you can distract yourself into believing it's gone.

I am able to squeeze in my swim, bike, run workouts so far. There is always lunch hour (or "hours" as the case may be) or after work or very early mornings. Radiation or not, the race is on the calendar.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

3-time cancer survivor laps me in the pool

Check out this video. I met this woman at the pool yesterday. She was swimming so fast and furious that I had to talk to her to tell her what an amazing swimmer she is and find out what she was training for. You don't swim that fast and furious without a goal. Turns out that she is an event coordinator for the San Francisco event of Swim Across America and is doing a New York Swim Across America event next weekend. Swim Across America is a group that raises money for cancer research. She is a competitive swimmer who was hit three times with three different kinds of cancers! I will never complain again or lament early stage breast cancer. This woman is simply inspiring. The 6 minute video is worth watching. You'll have to copy and paste it in your brower.