Starting Treatment: Round 2

I started my new chemo treatment in November, a month after surgery and this was to run with the radiotherapy treatment. The treatment was to run every 3 weeks same as before. The procedure is the same just a milder dose, returning to the chemo daycare ward was interesting and even thought my hair was only about an inch in length I had thrown off the dreaded wig and I noticed a few newcomers looking at my hair with interest. I got talking to a few of the new women as you do and as I guessed the questions were all about my hair. “How long after treatment did it start to grow? How long has it been growing? Has it come back the same as it was before?
When your hair starts to grow back and passes the inch mark you start to notice little curls popping up. As an ex-hairdresser I knew this was a possibility but when you start to resemble Shirley Temple it is time to have a hair cut. It will take at least two more cuts before your hair will return to its original state and this will not take as long as you might think. Because your hair is new and has no processing i.e. color or perms it will have a healthy shine and look great. You will notice a shadow of hair about 2 weeks after finishing your treatment and from there the growth is quite fast.

My radiotherapy started in January and this treatment turned out to be harder then the chemo. Basically it is like having an x-ray but takes a little longer (about 15-20 mins). Before starting treatment you need to have small markings placed in the area needing treatment and some of these markings are permanent. The treatment was given every day bar Saturday and Sunday and ran for 7 weeks. Because the radiotherapy treatment was in a different hospital to the chemo I would have to visit both hospitals one day every three weeks and that would be a really long day. The first week or so of radiotherapy was fine but as time progressed my skin started to burn, like as if you sat in the sun too long and as the weeks progressed my skin cracked and started weeping but the treatment could not be stopped midway so I had to use dressings to stop my clothes rubbing because the treatment area ran across my scar tissue and under my arm. Moisturiser is very important. The staff recommends E45 which is very good but I started to use pure Aloe Vera and found it to be better for my skin. My skin took about 2 weeks to heal fully after treatment was finished. What I have just described will not happen to everyone having radiotherapy as some people I spoke to sailed through it, this was just my own personal experience so don’t panic.

The End of my Treatment
Finally the treatment came to an end and you suddenly find you have time on your hands. Use this time to heal and get your energy back your body has been through a war and needs time to heal physically and mentally. It was recommended I take a 6 month break before returning to work full time and I had no problem with that. I started to plan a family holiday as we had missed the previous year; I caught up with friends and slowly moved on.

You still have regular hospital visits every 3-4 months, one is to the breast clinic, the oncology department where I had my chemo and lastly to the hospital where I had the radiotherapy so if you are working you will have to discuss these appointments with your boss as sometimes these appointments can take all day.

The only medication I need to take now is a hormone restrictor and 5 years is the time frame for this.
Tamoxifen is a restrictor of the estrogen receptor in breast tissue. It has been the standard endocrine (anti-estrogen) therapy for hormone-positive early breast cancer. This medication can help prevent a recurrence of breast cancer but be warned as long as you are taking it you may still experience menopausal side effects, a small price to pay when you think of what the medication can do for you.

At times I am fearful that this evil monster will return to try again especially on days when I am feeling tired or sore but then I remember what I have lived through the past 2 years and know if I had to I could do it again (not that I would ever want to!). The thing is you will only realise how strong you can be when you are put to the test.

 I have added a page titled "Explaining your illness to your Family" and "Sun Holiday after Surgery". I hope you have a look

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