One hardly thinks of a dental cleaning as a milestone, but that's how I viewed mine. During chemo I had to be very careful to avoid anything that might make my gums bleed. Not only was my immunity down, but mouth bacteria are powerful critters. Any bleeding would create breeding ground for infection.
On Monday, 11 days after my last chemo and with my oncologist's blessing, I returned to my dentist's office. Normally I would be due for a set of X-Rays, but those will have to wait. My sixth radiation treatment had occurred that morning and a body can take only so much frying.
I listened to my MP3 player to drown out the waiting room TV. Even that was a milestone. For the first time I bypassed the epic "chemo warrior" music that accompanied my infusions in favor of kick-up-your-heels jazz.
The cleaning went well. The dental hygienist told me I did a good job dealing with the dry mouth one gets from chemo. Dry mouth makes teeth more susceptible to cavities. My next set of X-Rays (whenever I get them) will tell the full story, but so far everything looks fine. I've been making sure to stay hydrated, which is just as important during radiation treatments.
My hair is definitely growing back, however gradually:
I've had the sebaceous cyst on the back of my head for decades. It became inflamed briefly while I was on Adriamycin/Cytoxan, but calmed down again after applications of Neosporin. Head sores are a potential side effect of chemo, so I'm thankful that the cyst inflammation resolved fairly quickly.
On Tuesday I joined my breast cancer support group facilitator (at far right) and another group member (second from left) on a local cable TV show:
The shirt I'm wearing has a Sharpie meditation doodle that I did between infusions of Adriamycin/Cytoxan. The show should be accessible on Livestream.com on Thursday 10/30 and then Tuesday 11/4 at 7:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Eastern, at new.livestream.com/accounts/9261275/events/3216060.
This morning I took my camera to my eighth radiation treatment.
Each mold is tailored to each individual's body shape (mine is tailored to my upper body), to ensure that the person is held in the exact same position for each radiation treatment. Calibration is also fine-tuned using grid lines projected from the wall and ceiling, along with numerical readouts.
The body mold for the patient after me is being put into place. During actual treatment, the table is raised and the linear accelerator pivots around the individual. This video from my treatment center includes a more detailed explanation.
Even though no mold was made for my lower body, I need to maintain a general position. Last week my hips had to be shifted a bit to the left. This week I think I've learned where to position them when lying down.
I also learned that I'm more comfortable if I have a lighter breakfast prior to radiation, considering how soon I lie down after eating.
The waiting room at my radiation treatment center is nicknamed "The Garden" and includes this koi pool.
The koi are very friendly and accept food from patients. One gentleman told me this morning that the large silver individual rears its body up after eating and wriggles upright across the pool.
For my birthday I treated myself to the fully-featured version of ArtRage. Among other things, it gives me a larger canvas to work with. (The full-sized image is considerably larger than the one shown here.) The African Iris is based on my shot of one in my yard.