Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Radiation or Sleep Deprivation?

This afternoon I felt a desperate need for a nap, so....I took one. It was raining like crazy outside, so the ambiance was perfect. The thing is, I cannot decide whether this "nap need" was related to the radiation treatments, or if it was merely the result of sleep deprivation. Last night a wild storm flew through Winston-Salem, and since we have one of those weather alert radios which comes on and squawks if there is severe weather coming, I was awakened numerous times during the night. Also, I did attend an exercise class today following my treatment, so I could be a bit more tired than usual anyway. I will be curious to see how I feel tomorrow afternoon, and if the "rack monster" will call my name.

I am beginning to see a bit of change in the condition of my skin where the radiation is focusing; there is some redness and a slight itch, which I am expecting to get worse. I have armed myself with Cortisone cream, Udder Balm, and benadryl. I think it is pretty funny that the skin cream recommended by the doctor is Udder Balm. What could be better for my particular situation?!

Yesterday was my day to have an appoinment with my radiation oncologist. She and I meet every week, and I love it that she has specific topics she covers at each meeting. Usually I think of radiologists as doctors who do not care for much patient contact - who are more focused on the technology than on the individual being treated. However, Dr. Evans is exceedingly personable and spends quite a bit of time answering my questions and trying to find out what I want to know. Yesterday we talked about exercise as a way to prevent recurrence. Apparently, 30-40 minutes of exercise at least 4 times per week greatly enhances ones odds of surviving this cancer. The research does not clarify exactly why this works, although I think she said that they believe that exercise activates/envigorates the "killer" T-cells. Whatever the reason, you can bet that I am putting my nose to this grindstone for all I am worth.

I really like Dr. Evans because she seems to embrace the world of integrative medicine. We have talked about vitamins and other supplements, and she spoke of what she does in her own daily regimen. And we have discussed dietary "no no's" like concentrated soy products. Interestingly, she has spotted in my nature that need to have some control or be taking steps toward a goal, because she mentioned something that had occurred to me during the past week: that I might feel a bit of a let-down after my treatments are complete, because then all I can do is "wait and see." Because I know this about myself, I am glad she is giving me some concrete things to do: exercise; take appropriate supplements; and avoid or reduce intake of certain foods, such as concentrated soy, alcoholic beverages, etc.

All in all, I am still feeling well and happy. Crazy, huh? I examine this perverse nature of mine, and find it puzzling. This "project" of having cancer is somehow envigorating to me. Plus, it seems to offer a great excuse for an afternoon nap.

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