Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Radiation begins tomorrow!

So, the simulation went great! It really didn't hurt very badly, and I was able to get my arm in the position they needed me to get in for the simulation. My left arm is bent and goes behind my head into a mold that they made for me. My entire left side of my chest, ribs, and collar bone is marked up with different color sharpies that helps guide the radiation. You have to be very careful to not wash  off the markers, and I was given strict orders to try my best to keep it all on. This is very difficult! I got marked up on Thursday and the next time I will get marked again is on Wednesday. This means no baths and when I take showers, I have to make sure I don't turn forward very much- crazy huh? They will re-mark me every day, so the toughest time to not wash off is on the weekends, and in my case, it just happens to be extra long because of the memorial weekend holiday.

Thank you all for praying that the simulation would go well and that it actually happened! Like I said, Dr. Strom was not thrilled with my movement and did not give me completely confidence that we would be able to go through with the simulation, but we did and everything went great. I stretched out my arm a ton before the simulation, and that seemed to help too. So, I start radiation tomorrow at 5:45p.m. We will leave tomorrow morning and will be in Houston until July 11th. Josh will come home a few times and I will probably come home a weekend or two, but no schedule on that..just kind of playing it by ear.

Still, no sign of lymphedema.. praise the Lord. Please keep praying I don't develop that. We also have a whole new list of prayer concerns with radiation starting tomorrow. It is pretty scary as they go through everything that "could" and some things that "probably will" happen during radiation. They are radiating my left side and of course, my heart is close by my chest on that side as well as my lung. There is always a chance that these can be radiated, along with my esophagus. So, there are risks there...please pray the laser beam touches only the places that it needs to touch! When they radiate a certain part close to my heart, I have to hold my breath for a certain time period that literally gets my heart out of the way of the radiation beam. It is amazing all that they can do, but kind of freaky too. Just for my simulation, there were like 10 people in there setting me up. At one point, the robe fell off of my right side and revealed my right breast and a technician said, "oh, we're going to try and keep you modest"...haha... that's hilarious....at this point, I feel like everyone and their momma has seen me!! I just laughed to myself, but of course he was just trying to make me feel better.

The radiation itself should only last between 10-20 minutes, but the entire set up start to finish, should last between 30-45 minutes. Once a week, I will meet with my doctor, and he will look at my skin and assess what all has been done. Dr. Strom is so nice... it is almost hard to take him seriously, because he is just so nice. He definitely makes you feel very taken care of, and he is very confident in what he does. We also have some friends that have used Dr. Strom, and they have been very pleased with his work.

So, other than the beam hitting parts of my body that we don't want it to, there are 2 main side effects from the radiation- fatigue and skin reactions. I praying that I will have little to no fatigue and no skin damage. Dr. Strom has said that he wants to see a skin reaction to show that the radiation is indeed killing cells, but I am praying so very hard that my skin does not become damaged irreversibly. To remind you all, this will all play a part in my final reconstruction. If my skin reacts well (which they are anticipation it won't, because it typically doesn't) they will just exchange my tissue expanders for permanent implants. This surgery and recovery is said to not be very bad, because you have already gone through the painful part with the expansion; however, if my skin reacts as they think it will, my skin will not be healthy enough to hold an implant; therefore, they will do what is called a "lat flap" in which they rotate my back muscle forward to get healthy tissue to hold the implant. I've heard some horror stories about this, and I believe it is a minimum 5 day hospital stay. I want whatever is supposed to happen, but I also know that I can pray about anything, so I am praying!!! Please pray with me about this. Obviously, this is strictly cosmetic and has nothing to do with "cancer" per se, so in the realm of things, it is small, but it will be another big surgery if it has to happen. As we have all seen, nothing is impossible for God! Please remember I was told that during chemo I would feel deathly ill, gain weight, and have acne. I was also told that theultrasounds still showed abnormal, cancerous looking lymph nodes and that it would be rare that my pathology would come back clean....BUT I rarely felt sick, no weight gain, no acne, and cancer-free pathology!!! I am continually in awe of my father.

I am by no means comparing myself to Mary or Elizabeth, but over these last almost 8 months, I have found myself relating with them. With Elizabeth because she was told she could not have children, and with Mary, as a young girl who had to trust God completely when she was so scared. 

Luke 1: 36- 38 "What's more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she's already in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God." Mary responded, "I am the Lord's servant, and I am willing to accept whatever he wants. May everything you have said come true." And then the angel left."
 Nothing is impossible with God. ---It's one thing to say it and believe it-- a complete other thing to have it happen in you and in your body. God is so worthy to be praised and his miracles are everywhere and available to us. We must believe.

Josh took out my final drain on Saturday..it didn't hurt at all, and he did a great job. I feel free!!! The timing worked out so well. They are all out right before radiation, which is what needed to happen. God is so good to me. I've heard of people who had drains taken out too early and then had fluid and swelling in their arms. With having my drains in so long, I know that the chance of extra fluid build up in low. So thankful to have a conservative plastic surgeon in Dr. Villa.

I only have one more expansion on my right breast, and then I am done expanding on that side. I have had pain in my back and chest this week from the expansion last week, so I am going to wait until next week to get my final expansion. With me being at MDA every day, I can pretty much pick and choose when to get expanded since I am there, so that is great:) Please continue to pray that the pain in my chest and back will cease.

I will be at MDA each morning for 6 weeks to get my radiation. 5 days a week for 6 weeks. We are so blessed to be staying at the Stanfills for 6 weeks. They literally have become our second family and home. This process would be so much different if we were staying at a hotel or an apartment for 6 weeks. So thankful.

So it is Tuesday around lunch, and I have so much more to do today: get dissertation stuff together, PACK, finish washing clothes, tidy up house, pick up GA check, pay ULM parking fee, return things to target, pick up water, pay bills, send off cards, get stamps, clean out garage, learn how to juice, return some things to just like you, drop off Josh to pick up vehicle, clean out car, call some clients...and much more! :)Thankfully, I have a bunch of energy today!! Ready for today and thankful to be able to get all of these things done before I leave. Below are some pics of what radiation will look like and my last drain taken out!

This is what I am laying on and will go through for the radiation. The blue looking pillow was the thing I laid on and the air was taken out of it to create a mold for me to lay on.

This was after my last drain was taken out! Thank you Jesus! 
I will continue to update at least weekly and post some pictures of us here in Houston. I'm starting the last phase of my cancer treatment, forever! Thank you Jesus- my healer, my provider, my comforter!


Anonymous said...

Praying for you today!
~ Laurie Payne

rhelda nolan said...

bless you. God is there at MDA. praying for you not to have side effects from the radiation. hugs rhelda nolan

The Heart Mom said...

I was reading your post and praying through it for you and feeling sad and triumphant and then I read your reference to Mary and Elizabeth's stories and I just lost it. How right you are Aly! God's faithfulness in those two women's lives is such a rock to land your faith and ours on. How perfect for God to reveal Himself to you through those two faith-filled women's lives. I am so touched by this. Praying mightily for your treatments, for your total remission reports, for your reconstruction for your cancer-free life! Love you and giving you over to God the Father who loves you more than anyone does. Joneal

Anonymous said...

YOu are both in my prayers and our God will give you peace. I am a 6 week post-op double mastectomy patient and the prayers of so many have blessed my life in ways I never knew were there for me.
If you need to talk let me know.

Lauren & Zack said...

Aly, I feel like I know so much about you and we have never met. We are from Forest, LA and my husband is Zack Smith, the Forest Coach that was diagnosed with Cancer. We found out about you through a great friend, Chad Olinde. Zack and I have been living here in Houston since he was diagnosed in January. We have an apartment here so our 5 month old baby can be with us when Zack is well enough. Would love to meet you if you ever felt up to it. We have to be at MDA 3 days a week so it is like our other home. Please know I am praying for you and your family daily. Thank you for doing God's work!

Lauren Smith

Anonymous said...

Praying for you today. I believe and agree with God All things are possible. I am praying for a miraculous healing to manifest in your body.

Aly Taylor said...

Thank you so so much!

Aly Taylor said...

Aww, hey Lauren. Yes, I have prayed for your husband... So glad to connect with you. Please text me your number.. I would love to get together!! Mine is 318 372 3342. Looking forward to hearing great reports from you guys! Please contact me.. So wonderful to hear from you.

Aly Taylor said...

Aww thank you Cindy. I'd love your email or phone number. I will be six weeks out on Monday. So we had surgery about the same time.. God is so good and I'm so glad you contacted me.

Aly Taylor said...

Thank you so much Ms Joneal. All of your messages have meant so much to me. God is so faithful and proves faithful in my fears. Thank you for your consistent love and prayers for me. We love you.

Aly Taylor said...

You are always so sweet. And yes God is with me. Can't imagine doing this alone!

Aly Taylor said...

Thank you Laurie. Your messages always make me smile!

L. Young said...

We continue to pray for you right now, sweet one!...:D

Aly Taylor said...

Thank you ms Lori.. I still need those prayers:)