What started as IDC (Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma) in 2011, then turned into CHF (Congestive Heart Failure) in 2013, probably partially caused by chemotherapy along with a genetic pre-disposition. Here we are now in March 2016 and I am newly diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer in the left breast and liver (LMBC - liver metastasized breast cancer).

So the focus has shifted yet again, BUT... I continue to THANK YOU for your prayers, love & support. I receive them with open & loving arms. My wish is that I will gain strength from you, will provide helpful information and strength to others & will help to strip away the fears we each experience.

I am strong. I am loved. I am healthy. I WILL SURVIVE!

Have you or your loved one had their annual mammogram? PLEASE, don't put it off. Speaking from experience, I highly recommend monthly self exam as well. And if you are now cancer free of breast cancer, do everything you can to insist that your doctors follow up with an occasional PET Scan and labs for tumor markers.

Contents may be uplifting, sad, funny, scary, downright depressing ~ THAT IS CANCER .... at it's best, at its worst.

PLEASE ~ Feel free to share this blog with anyone who is interested to learn about my journey. While I welcome their support, I hope that by sharing this experience freely to the universe I may help to support others by breaking down some of the barriers and fear associated with breast cancer and the treatment.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Radiation Teach & Simulation Appointments

Today I had two appointments. The first was the radiation teaching appointment to learn all the ins and outs of my upcoming radiation. That was followed by the radiation simulation appointment to make sure everything was aligned up just so precisely for my radiation, which begins on Monday.

While there, I see that the Phil Poster is new and improved, complete with color photos as examples.
The "teaching" appointment went well. Nancy, the RN, went over all the particulars.... no deodorant with metals, nothing on the radiated area but aquaphor or 100% aloe vera, but no less than 4 hours before radiation. During the treatment expect everything from slight redness, to sunburn, to immediate blistering. Joy - joy. No sun on the area to receive radiation. There may/will be fatigue, but keep active. Get 8 hours of sleep a night. Oh, and here is this huge file of information for you, but you only really need to read this section about radiation to the breast. They also gave me a video to view Nancy had not viewed yet herself. I've just started it and it is much more advanced than the the video we watched at the chemo teach appointment. 

Nancy escorted me down to the changing room, which I had been to once before. She marked a cubby for me and showed me the gowns to use. She explained, like the sign on the wall stated, that I was to take a fresh gown each Monday, use it and keep it in my cubby during the week, and place it in the soiled gown bin on Friday. Then she asked me to disrobe from the waist up, put on a gown, and wait in the radiation waiting room. The same gentleman was there who was there when I went for my CT Planning appointment a few weeks ago. While I was waiting, he was called for his appointment, and then returned soon thereafter. I commented on "how fast" that was. They say it will be quick, only 15 minutes or so. I've been warned that it takes more time to undress and get ready for the appointment,than it does for the actual radiation part.

Then I was called for the simulation appointment. I do not recall the name of the tech who called me. We walked by what she pointed out to be the "Control Desk", where they would return to during radiation because "they could not be in the room". It was an area with computers, a desk, and basically a large office space. Inside the radiation room was a gentleman, again I forget the name, and he greeted me. Unlike the CT Planning Scan room, there was a beautifully lit picture on the ceiling of a tropical setting complete with waterfall, and lush greenery. I was asked to lay down on a table, exactly like the one used in the CT Planning. Then asked to place my arms over my head. She showed me the picture they had taken of me during the Planning and asked that I wrap my two index fingers together just like I had them then. They adjusted me with the light beams from the ceiling lined up with the tattoos I received during that earlier appointment, and used my gown to gently slide me ever so little to get all things aligned perfectly for the simulation X-rays. They also took measurements from my tattoos down to the table to get it all exact.

Before she left the room, the technician explained that they would be taking some films. Then the Doctor would be called in to view everything. Once they were confident that all was exact, they would come back into the room. So there I was, laying on this table, arms overhead. I was doing pretty good mentally, but wondering if they could see or hear me should I freak out or something, which I didn't expect to do. But you never know.  :-) The piece of equipment which was overhead all the time they were getting everything aligned came to life. Occasionally it made a noise to tell me it was scanning.  There was also a sound from the left side of the room coming from something I could not see. All the while I'm reciting The Owl and the Pussycat, or as much of it as I could remember from Fourth Grade, or whenever that was we memorized the Edward Lear poem. And a few prayers too! So this gadget moves around a bit from time to time and I wonder if I should close my eyes when it sounds like it is doing the X-ray, or not. Eventually it moves off to the left of my body. Then, surprising to me, this other piece of equipment moves in from the right and gets up close and personal. Again.... I wonder, can the technicians see me from the other room? Does this new piece of equipment know that my elbows are sticking out and to avoid me? I'm sure it is all so precisely calibrated to do everything exact, but come on... it would have been nice to have a more complete review of what was to happen before now to take all this fear away. Again, I survive!

The female technician returns to the room to tell me that they are almost done. The last thing she will do is draw some lines on my body.  I ask her why that is being done. She states that this is to document the area to be radiated, which they will take a photograph of for their records. Ah, now I understand.

So I leave there with what looks like the state of Maryland. So this is the third time that I leave an appointment with a drawing all over my chest in a dark blue pen, and the drawing extends up above the edge of my shirt so that it is obvious when I am running errands on the way home. Oh well, I'm getting very used to this. Maybe I need a real tattoo that looks like something other than squiggles just above my neckline.

Well.... I survived. I'm still here to tell you all about it and get ready for that first real appointment on Monday. I guess I am ready for the next step.


Debbie... aka the cancer warrior ... AND SURVIVOR!!!
Sonoma Relay for Life Team ~  Debbie's Blasting Crew. ~ ONLY ONE WEEK TILL RELAY


  1. How do you remember such detail in the middle of what has to be at best a highly stressful experience? Your observational abilities are amazing! I am impressed as I have been from the start. See you this coming weekend my friend.

  2. Yikes!.....I forgot about the crazy scenery thing on the'll meet some really nice people in that waiting room every's interesting how we bond under these kinds of situations.......good luck on Monday....You'll do great Deb

  3. Tomorrow is the first day of the beginning of the end of radiation. Fast or slow, it WILL pass and you WILL move on,


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