Here I am in the last stages of my radiation therapy, and (as expected) the skin redness has definitely gotten worse since I reported on it in my previous post. No more polka dots; it’s all awash in red by now. Fortunately it still does not actually hurt very much (unless you poke it – don’t poke it), with two exceptions.
One minor exception is the under-boob area, which gets a bit sore from wearing a bra. I have now completely switched to my unsupportive underwire-free bras (go wireless!), and have bought a few more cheap ones on Amazon. I’m glad radiation happens at the end of all this, when my give-a-shit-o-meter is at it’s absolutely lowest point; right now I could not care less about the asymmetry caused by wearing the least supportive bra on the planet.
A much less minor exception, and my only real area of discomfort and pain, is under my arm. Having my upper arm constantly touching or rubbing against the chest wall, even lightly, has gradually become more and more uncomfortable. The weekend before last I started experimenting with clothing modifications to help. I started by tying an Ace bandage around my shoulder to hold my tshirt as close to my skin and immovable as possible. This actually helped a lot. It was clearly impractical but at least it helped me figure out exactly what might make it feel better.
I have since found that fitted (i.e., slightly too small) tank tops work reasonably well in managing this issue. But the real solution came last Wednesday. If you’ll recall, every Wednesday I stay a few minutes after my radiation therapy session to meet with Dr. Zap. I also meet with his nurse, whom I told about my underarm chafing problem. She said, “Oh, we have a former patient who sews pillows and donates them to us exactly for this purpose.” She left for a moment and came back with a selection of heart-shaped pillows! The first thing I said when I saw them was, “Oh, Paige is going to steal that from me…” They came in different sizes, and she had plenty of them, so I got to take two of them home – one for me, and one for Paige.
I just have to say these have been a great idea. They work great! During the day I’m mostly ok with my too-small tank top under my shirt. The heart pillow is particularly helpful at night, when for whatever reason the tank top is not good enough, and the discomfort is at its worst. I’m able to tuck the pillow in there and it stays put for the most part. I wish I could thank the creative and generous soul who donated these to the RT center and would definitely suggest these for anyone else going through this!