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  • Heather Love

Hair, Vacation, Radiation and more

It has been a little over four weeks since surgery, the incisions are healing, and I am getting more energy back. I started occupational therapy and am doing that once a week for another month while doing a set of exercises twice a day to help increase the mobility in my right arm and help prevent lymphedema.

My hair is starting to come in (not as quickly as I would like it), but it is super soft. It will be interesting to see if it develops the wavy "chemo curls" many women have stated happens as it grows longer. I am working up the courage (on occasion) to take off my scarf or beanie when in public. I am unsure why it makes me so self-conscious, but I definitely felt more confident with an entirely bald head. Weird, I know. This current look makes me feel like a middle-aged G.I. Jane....without the amazing Demi Moore body to go with it.

Greer has particularly taken to my new super soft hair and keeps petting it while we are snuggled on the couch watching a movie or show. Here is a sneaky photo I took without him seeing.

Rick whisked me away for a little oncologist-approved road trip over the weekend. It was amazing to escape the hamster wheel that we have been on and be able to lay in the shade by a pool, have a few cocktails, enjoy a few dinners out and simply relax. It felt as though the rest of the world didn't exist and was a much-needed opportunity to celebrate how much we have been through and give me the energy to push through this final leg of this damn marathon.

I started back to work this week at a 50% capacity while continuing to stay remote. Although I am not sure I was 100% ready to come back with radiation around the corner, I needed to return to maintain health insurance benefits. It does feel good to be back and see so many familiar faces via Zoom, and I can't wait to see more. It's crazy to think that my first mammogram was in August when we had just started back as teachers, and now, once radiation is over, this insane roller coaster ride will have lasted until at least the end of June (the entire school year).

I met with my radiation oncologist this week. We learned that I will be receiving radiation to both the right breast and the lymph nodes located just under the right collar bone. They are doing this because if any cancer cells are remaining that chemo and surgery didn't get, those are the places that they would travel to next. My next visit (that I am waiting to be scheduled) will include a CT simulation scan of the affected area. During a CT simulation, you must be immobile. It is a scan of the cancer area that will be treated. The images are collected and sent to a physicist for planning with my radiation oncologist. I'll also get four small tattoos (!) that will be used to line up the machines on my daily appointments.

The radiation oncologist will also give the dosimetrist or medical physicist the prescription that includes how much radiation I need, the targeted area, and the best type of radiation treatment to use. A physicist will use the images to prepare a treatment plan that meets the prescription determined by my radiation oncologist.

My treatment is going to be five days a week (Monday through Friday) for a total of about six and a half weeks. Each session will be around 30 minutes, but the radiation itself lasts only 2-3 minutes. The rest is making sure I'm perfectly aligned, setting up the machine, etc. It will likely start in another 3-4 weeks, pending how soon the planning meeting gets scheduled.

So, we wait. On the positive side, this will give me more time to heal, get more mobility in my right arm, and allow me to get more energy back while getting used to working again. On the negative side, I am so dang tired of this journey, of waiting, of treatments, of not feeling 100%. This has been such a marathon.....and running a marathon has never been something that has been on my bucket list. I am thankful to have such an incredible medical team that has kept me safe, two incredible boys and the love of my life that keep me fighting, my incredible, devoted mom who has been by my side and helping non-stop, and friends and family that support and encourage me every step of the way. I am so incredibly grateful for every one of you.

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