Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Cancer Stranger & Radiation

I was at the check out at King Soopers yesterday and looked over and saw the woman checking out next to me.  She was probably in her mid 30's.  She had a buzz cut and workout clothes on, and a tank top with a zip up sweater over top.  I could see the top corner of a red square that looked similar to a sun burn.  But with radiation burns it is a VERY defined line.  Just seeing this woman in the store, it was painfully obvious what she was currently dealing with and it took me right back to the time when I was dealing with that as well.  Ours eyes met for a brief few seconds and I offered her a warm smile and she smiled back.  I wanted to talk to her and tell her to keep fighting, but she was in an obvious hurry and rushed out of the store.    
I remember during my radiation treatment remembering when I used to tan and put a heart sticker on my tummy.  I would tan with the sticker on and then you could see how tan you got over several sessions because the area where the heart was, was still your normal white skin color rather than tan.  Much like that, the radiation area is a huge square area that covered me from my sternum to under my arm.  It eventually turned into a tan square that I had for a long time.  I want to say a little less than a year.    Overall, radiation was more of an inconvenience to me compared to what I had just been through with chemo and surgery but still not anything I would ever want to experience for a second time.  Going in 5 days a week at the same time for 6-ish weeks.  Every. Day. Bleh. 
The one thing that I do have to see that was a product of my radiation treatment was my radiation tattoos.  They permanently brand you with tats so that every treatment you do they can line up the radiation machine in the same spot, thus the perfect square radiation burn.  It's amazing how precise it is.  The first time you go in for radiation treatment they tattoo black dots on you.  I have 3.  Two that were on my sternum and one under my arm.  After all the reconstruction I have had done, the two that were in line with each other on my sternum at one point, are nowhere near each other.  Good thing for elasticity in the skin!  
I was the queen of loose fitting shirts.  Again, like a sunburn.  Don't touch, rub, look.... or for that matter even think about looking at my burn.  It hurts!
I never really took any pictures of my burns but I do remember that I had JUST finished my radiation treatment right before I participated in my first relay for life.  Here's a picture of me and Jennifer doing the survivor lap.  I hated my hair this length.  Still too short to even do anything with it, just look at those crazy cowlicks all over my head!
Please follow the link on the side bar to donate to my relay for life efforts

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