WBR: Week One

I lied on the hard table this morning, looked up at my reflection in the radiation delivery device (not the technical name), and thought, “I can’t believe I come here willingly.”

My daily appointments are at 8:20am Monday through Friday. After not working for over a year, it’s a little odd to go somewhere on a set, daily schedule.

On the positive side, it’s nice to have a little extra time in the morning with Seth. I suppose that’s one measure of how much you adore someone. You can view driving to and from radiation treatment as ‘quality time’!

Another positive thing? The treatment is quick. Four days out of the week, treatment takes only ten minutes. The other day there is a nurse and doctor visit afterwards.

And that’s where the pros end. I take a steroid and Zofran prior to treatment each day to help prevent nausea and vomiting. And while my body has threatened a few times, I’ve avoided losing any lunch over the first three days.

The place where I receive treatment is a mere 15 minute drive from my house. So if everyone is on schedule, we’re home by 9am. At that point, I’m emotionally spent and tired from barely (or not) sleeping the night before.

Seth goes to work, and I take a stab at my first nap of the day. In total, I’ll probably end up taking two 2-hour naps.

As the morning wears on, I sidestep some small bouts of nausea and hide my eyes in bed to combat short stints of photosensitivity. (I haven’t found that listed anywhere as a side effect. Who knows…)

The afternoon moves along with nap #2 and a small snack of fruit if I’m in the mood. It’s around this time that I really start feeling the effects of the day’s treatment.

By the time Seth gets home, I feel like a mess. I’m exhausted and emotionally spent. The correct word is “fatigued,” but it barely seems to cover the feeling. I know it’s only moderate right now. The worst is yet to come, according to the literature and experiences of my cancer pals. But who knows – maybe I’ll be the exception.

As usual, I expend the energy I have while Seth is home. And so far I’ve been able to eat dinner, albeit with some reservations. These first three days I’ve been out of bed for part of the evening, which I consider a real success and a marker between “moderate” and “severe” fatigue.

Eventually Seth says ‘goodnight,’ and the long night begins. It often feels like a countdown until the next treatment. I try to sleep but end up tossing and turning for hours. That makes me feel crappier; I look at the clock and try to find a way to get comfortable once again. The countdown continues and silently, I cry.

Tonight I (dumbly) did the math. 3 treatments down, 12 to go. I’m only 20% complete. It’s going to be a long August.


11 responses to “WBR: Week One

  • stage5cancerblog

    I am thinking of you every day. I love your blog. I did targeted brain radiation three months ago.

  • readytotell

    I am pulling for you. I admire your courage so much. Your posts are highly anticipated as I think about you all the time. Seth is an amazing partner for you in life. The love you share is truly a blessing.

    Linda Forem 2628 Gayton Grove Rd Richmond, Va. 23233 804.869.4861

  • rinneron

    oh love, this sucks. i’ve only ever done rads to my chest wall, so i can’t imagine what wbr is like, but “shitty” strikes me as a massive understatement. i hope with all my heart this delivers the kind of news you deserve — good, *good* news. all my love–

  • kimmywink

    Another day down – hello 27%!

    Be sure to put lotion behind your ears and on the backside of your ears. Staying on top of that should cut down on the burning. Or, I hope it should anyhoo’s.

    • Jessica

      Okay, thanks. I asked the doc about it, though, and he didn’t think I’d have any issues. Still, one can never be too cautious. I remember how uncomfortable you were…

  • HP

    You can do it girl! Every day down is a small victory and I’ll be your cheerleader from afar! You most certainly wouldn’t want to see me in my little pleated polyester skirt up close! Lol

  • stage5cancerblog

    sending you good vibrations right now…

  • Sabina

    Hi Jessica,

    It’s nice that you have only a short, pleasant car ride to treatment every day with such a loving and understanding chaffeur. I’ve heard horror stories of poor sufferers who’ve had to endure hours long journeys to and fro on public transport to their daily treatment. Can you imagine?! Still, if the patient puked on the train on the way home, the other commuters probably wouldn’t bat an eyelid, and only the very closest would shift to another seat… maybe. I’m allowed to make smartypants remarks about commuters because I was one for over 30 years (2+ hours per day). It takes a lot to repulse/shock some of us longer-term commuters. Oh, I could tell you stories. But not today.

    I’m sorry your nights are so wakeful and lonely. Would it be possible for you to stay up late until you are really tired and then you may be able to go to sleep more easily? I know a couple of people who live with chronic pain and have trouble sleeping, so they visit chatrooms or play online games most of the night. I know you have to be up early for your appointment, but you have Seth to get you up so you can’t oversleep, and you can nap during the afternoon. If this is not pactical for you, that’s okay. Only a suggestion. Just don’t sacrifice your comfort just to avoid inconveniencing others. If you feel better staying up half the night reading, watching movies or playing games, and sleeping most of the day, then so be it.

    Alternatively, if you are determined to try and keep “normal” hours, there are some lovely guided meditations on CD you can buy that may lessen your anxieties and help you to drift off to sleep. Here is just one website that sells such guided meditations. The link below takes you to one of her CDs relating specifically to sleep. There are other CDs on the website to help people with various issues.


    I haven’t bought any of these CDs myself yet (I’d like to) for the simple reason that I can’t afford them as I am on a very limited fixed income at the moment and other things must take priority. However, the testimonials (if real) for these particular meditations are glowing, and for the cost of a family takeout meal ($25) might be worth a try, eh?

    You continue in my thoughts and prayers.

    • Jessica

      I do have the best chauffeur! I try to play games on my phone or watch TV to pass the time. I’m definitely not committed to “normal” hours; my motto is to sleep when you can!

      Right now I’m on a free subscription to Spotify, and from there I can stream a lot of different calming/soothing music. (There’re some free apps for the iPhone/iPad too, but new age stuff isn’t usually my cup of tea.)

      I usually sleep downstairs now and Seth upstairs, so at least I’m not keeping him up or waking him at night!

  • Patrick

    Jessica … whole brain radiation in my odyssey was a cake walk compared o the whomping chemo is laying on me … but it’s all about the end result and 10 radiation treatments arrested brain mets and chemo has two of three tumors shrinking and the remaining stunned … I pray you and Seth get to share wonderful results

    • Jessica

      My first chemo was not so bad at all (avastin/Alimta/carboplatin) and my second one sucked. (Both were for lungs and not brain.) Funny, though, we tend to block out those times, don’t we? I’m glad WBR was smooth for you and wish chemo would get its butt in gear for you as well!

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