Going for the Burn

The trifecta of cancer treatment is surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation — colloquially referred to Slash, Poison and Burn. Poison and Slash are behind me and I’m on the last leg of the treatment race — Burn. I started radiation, generally thought of as the least invasive of the Big Three, on Monday.

When cancer cells are detected in pathology samples after a lumpectomy, six weeks of radiation are recommended. Since no cancer was found in my samples, three weeks are optimal.

With clean pathology results, the odds of cancer returning in five years are 10%; with radiation, that number goes down to 5%. I want every chance of winning this war, so I’m going for the burn.

I’ve had four treatments. My skin is warmer, ribs feel lightly bruised, and I’m more tired than I was a week ago — but if I can survive chemo and surgery, I can make it through eleven more zaps of radiation.

Radiation lab techs gave me a calendar marked with the times of every appointment. After each treatment, I put a big X in the box for that day.

I’m counting down. Last radiation, if all goes well, is December 5. Then it’s just chemo-light through the end of next July.