Today was appointment #2 of the week: my first visit with Dr. Zap, my radiation oncologist. Well, not the very first visit – we met Dr. Zap a long time ago, when I first got my diagnosis. We really liked him, and today did not change that opinion.
At today’s appointment, he explained to us that he and some of his colleagues had actually been discussing my case. He was trying to find a way that I could avoid radiation altogether. Radiation is indicated for me since there was lymph node involvement. Only one lymph node was involved, but they only biopsied three of them. Had it been one out of, say, fifteen, that would be different; but in my case they only biopsied three of them – so not a lot of data to work with.
He reiterated that, since my mastectomy, I’m technically cancer-free (in remission) and that all this – both the chemo and the radiation – is being done to reduce my risk of the cancer returning. Given all of this, proceeding with radiation reduces my risk of recurrence by 9%, which is a lot. So, we do it.
He also told us something interesting, that I had not realized. Yes, there were 12 invasive tumors in my now-gone breast, with the largest being 1.8cm. But there was also a 5cm non-invasive tumor (DCIS) in there too! Very unusual! Righty must have really been out to get me. I have learned so much since I received the original pathology report, clearly I need to re-read it to see what else I may have missed. He agreed, however – like all the other docs – that I’ve made the correct decision to keep Lefty; but we’ll keep an eye on her over the years to make sure she doesn’t turn on me too.
The good news is that it’ll be only 28 days of radiation – 5.5 weeks – instead of the 7 weeks that I’d originally been told to expect.
After our discussion with Dr. Zap, the nurse gave us a tour of the facility. Radiation will be every day, five days a week, and should take about 10-15 minutes per session. I start by checking in using an ID bracelet they gave me, then I proceed back to the changing room and put my clothes in a locker. Today was the mapping session, which apparently meant a CT scan of just the breastal area. After the technicians positioned me in the machine, Dr. Zap stopped by and made some Sharpie marks on me. The technicians put stickers on me, took their scans, then gave me three teeeensy tattoos – Tad won’t take a picture of them for you since they literally look like nothing. It all took about twenty minutes.
My next session is scheduled for the 28th, during which they’ll take some x-rays, and the official first radiation session will be the 29th. By my math, that means my last session will be February 7, but I’ll get an official schedule from them at my next visit.