all marked up

For radiation.

(In an attempt to be transparent on this cancer journey, I share the following pic, which is not flattering. However, I’ve noticed that my breast cancer related tags get searched a lot, and not just recently – it has been this way since 2012. I want to give as much info as I can, and keep it real with all the ladies (and men) who may be looking for an insider perspective into breast cancer. xoxo)


No tattoos necessary this time, because Dr. Z says we should only need the one treatment. So one zap and that’s that. The idea is that it will kill the cancer in that one spot, thereby providing pain relief. I’ll get zapped on Monday at 5 pm. Now I just have to keep these marks visible until then. It’s hard to tell in the pic, but they are covered by medical tape. I guess I won’t be having any baths this week/weekend. Showers only/no scrubbing.

I also asked for some insight into why we don’t just radiate all of them. He explained that we are only using radiation to provide pain relief. We need to leave the others so that we can (1) limit the amount of radiation in my body (and save it for later use if necessary), and (2) we need the other tumors to remain untouched so that we have a way to tell if the new treatment is working. That all made perfect sense, and made me feel better.

I’m getting nervous about starting treatment on Friday. For the most part, I still feel pretty good, and I’m worried the side effects from these meds are going to ruin that.


Here’s your fucking breast cancer awareness.

This was during my 35 day radiation treatment back in 2013. Breast cancer isn’t sexy. It’s not about saving the boobies. It’s not about no bra day, which is really just an excuse for women to post sexy pics of their nipples pressing through their clothes. It’s scars, nausea, pain, bald heads, burnt skin, and broken hearts.

If this doesn’t make you “aware” then I don’t know what will. 

Does it make you uncomfortable? It should. 

Radiation is over. Today was my final treatment. I got to ring the bell (for what I hope is the last time). The plaque above the bell says: Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away. Smile – this is one of those moments.

It felt amazing to ring that fucking bell. My best friends surprised me by showing up to watch me ring it.

This evening was spent celebrating with my boyfriend. We had a fabulous night together, and I finally got to try the Strawberry Honey Weizen from Six Row. It was delicious, btw. I had two.

Life is good.

I’m kind of tipsy right now, and that will likely set the tone for this entry.  I apologize in advance for spelling and/or grammatical errors.

Tomorrow is July and I’m just so excited I can hardly stand it.  Tomorrow is the last day of radiation (OMFG) and this is my birthday month as well.  I’ll be 34 this month, and I have never been happier or more grateful to be alive.  This is going to be the best month ever.  I have lots of plans. I’m ready to get started!

I turned in the keys to my old apartment today.  That was a weird feeling.  On the one hand, I will miss it, because I have a lot of great memories there.  It was the first place I ever lived on my own.  It was also the first place where Dave and I were free to be a real couple.  That was nice.  On the other hand, that is where I suffered through chemo, and those are not so good memories.  I’m so happy in the new place.  It’s amazing here.  it’s the nicest place I have ever lived, and the location is just amazing.  This is the perfect place to get my fresh start.  The last year and a half has been extremely difficult, and I’m ready to put it behind me.

In the spirit of moving forward, I have been trying to identify things that make me happy.  I remember how fulfilled I felt when I was volunteering with Big Brothers/Big Sisters during law school.  I decided it was time to do something similar.  I found an organization called Girls On The Run, the purpose of which is to help young girls (elementary and middle school aged) to train for a 5k.  I have signed up to coach for the fall season, and I am extremely excited about it.  So I get to combine two things I love: making a difference in the lives of young girls and running.  This is a major win!

I’m quite pleased with how quickly my skin is healing.  It still kind of hurts, definitely itches, and there is much peeling, but I can tell it’s all going to be okay.  That is all I ever wanted.  I’m pleased that it appears that I will have the peace of mind that comes with knowing I threw everything I had at cancer, without sacrificing good skin and reconstruction.  Thank fucking god.  My biggest fear was losing my expander, and that didn’t happen.  I’m so grateful. 

I know I’ll never be the same Jennifer I was before November 1, 2012, but I think I can be an even better version of her, and that makes me so happy.

I’m happy.  Finally. 

I am finished with my regular radiation treatments, and today I started boosts.  I have four treatments remaining.  My skin is mostly red, though some of it in the axilla area is brown, itchy, peeling, raw, and horribly painful.  I’m hoping the axilla will start healing now that it will not be receiving anymore radiation.  My radiation oncologist prescribed silver sulfadiazine cream to prevent infection.  Otherwise, I am using Vanicream and Aquaphor. 

It looks bad, and it feels worse than it looks.  There is a picture under the cut.  Don’t click it if you don’t want to see what a radiation wound looks like.

That’s the axilla (armpit/under arm), which received a lot of treatment because I had cancer cells in my lymph nodes, and those lymph nodes were leaking into the surrounding area.  

The boosts are fast.  I think it took five minutes, and most of that time was spent getting me properly situated on the table. 

Have I mentioned that I’m ready to be done?  It’s so close, yet so far away. 

  • Yesterday was a great day.  It was Dave’s 40th birthday, and we had a lot of fun touring a bunch of local breweries.  I think he had a really good day, and that makes me very happy.
  • My skin is causing me a great deal of discomfort.  I don’t know how I’m going to make it through 11 more treatments. 
  • My big toenail on my left foot is falling off.  Fucking chemo side effects.  Ugh. When I realized it a little bit ago, I totally flipped my shit.  Kristie and Scott thought I was dying or something.  I’ve never denied that I’m very dramatic.
  • The apartment is coming along.  My dining room table will be delivered sometime tomorrow, and I can’t wait.  So far I’m really enjoying city life, though my entire routine is changing and I’m still trying to figure it out.  New stores, new gym, new everything.
  • I’m buying a new couch.  I want a sectional, which I think will look best in my living room.  Plus, my old couch is just a mess.  I’m way excited about it.  I’m going to go shopping this Friday and try to get it delivered on Saturday since I’ll be sitting around waiting on the cable guy anyway.
  • 10 days without cable and internet at home is kind of sucky, but we are managing a lot better than I expected.  Thank goodness for 4G access on the iPhone/iPad and for our blu-ray player. 
  • Things at the office are way busy, which is excellent.
  • I’m currently reading Defending Jacob.  I’m about 75 pages in and it’s great so far.  I’m a sucker for crime/mystery novels; especially when the main character is a lawyer.
  • There is other stuff I wanted to say but it’s gone.  Gotta go to radiation. Two weeks from today will be my last treatment! (Unless that stupid machine breaks again)