Passing the Baton

Today I officially end my final chemo cycle. Yay! I will take the last pill of my regimen this evening at 8 pm. After that I can empty out my bucket o’ meds and return the unused drugs to my friendly neighborhood pharmacy. Good riddance.

I also had my first consultation with the Radiation oncologist to begin preparing for the next phase of my treatment. I had done my research ahead of time so I was prepared more or less for what to expect from the radiation treatment. Before they begin treatment they use a CT machine to isolate the “radiation field”. The angles of the radiation beams will then be directed so they only hit the field and not the surrounding tissue…obviously this won’t be 100% but they make a considerable effort to focus the treatment. The technicians use 3 tattoos to mark my body so they can position me in the same orientation every day. So yes, my first tattoo is a constellation of 3 alignment dots scattered over my body…I suppose maybe that’s appropriate for an engineer. 🙂

I did have a few surprises though:

1. Apparently I have to do 25 doses rather than the 15 I was told earlier. Not a HUGE deal but the difference between 3 and 5 weeks. I will start next week and will be done at the end (rather than the middle) of September.

2. Since I am getting radiated on my left side this hospital uses a technique called “Active Breath Control” to move my chest wall as far away from my heart as possible when the radiation is active. Thanks for that. 🙂 Basically, they will only turn the radiation machine on when my lungs are full of air and I have to keep the air in my lungs until the dose is done…or hold my breath for 25 seconds or so. What this means for me practically is that my nose is clamped shut and I have to breath in and out through a snorkel so they can monitor the air flow. It’s a little awkward but also not a huge deal. I will just imagine some fish and look at it as excellent practice for the next time we go snorkeling.



6 thoughts on “Passing the Baton

  1. Hello
    I read your reply on Chemo Brain’s blog aka AnneMarie. I wanted to wish you well as you enter the second stage of your treatment..
    There is an amazing community through the blogging world ready to give you all the support you may need.. I am sorry you had to become a member of this club no one asks to join. We are here to help you. I am now going into my 4th year… Peace & Blessings.. Please stop by my blog….
    Love Alli…xx

    • Thanks for your message Alli! I still find blogging a bit strange but I have relied very heavily on the virtual community…if only passively for information. It has been a bit lonely to walk this road in a foreign culture and language so I use my computer to reach out. Hopefully now that the chemo is behind me I will become more active. xx L

  2. Congratulations on the Baton Pass! I enjoyed reading your posts. We are on about the same timeline. My last session will be on August 30th, then radiation, Tamoxifen, etc…. I, too, am living in Europe. (I have been living in Germany for 15 years although I work on an American army base.)

    I wanted to join in on the celebration! I find it important to celebrate milestones – even the bittersweet ones!

    All my best,


    • Kristen-
      Thanks for stopping by and good luck as you finish the chemo stretch. Especially now that summer has hit with full force. 🙂 I don’t know if it’s as warm where you are but here in Groningen this weekend is toasty. You are one of the first women I’ve met that is going through this outside their native culture (I’m guessing you’re American). It has added an interesting spin on the whole process for me.

      Celebration is important…I’m still waiting a couple weeks to fully celebrate the end of chemo. I want to be able to enjoy a good bottle of wine but for that my taste buds need to get their act together. I’ll send you a virtual toast when you finish.
      xx L

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