burn, baby, burn

So, I now have a radiation burn, right where the elastic of your bra would hit the skin. That means: no bra which means: no prosthesis. Not even any fluff. Yes, I’m Judy One Boob these days. I can’t even use the sports bra that kind of smushes Righty, the one boob that I have left to make it less obvious that I’m walking about with just one boob and then Notatata on the left side. On Monday, I wore a scarf to kinda/sorta camoflage the fact that Notatata was accompanying me. Today, I’m not bothering. I bought a camisole from Target just to keep the One Girl from flappety-flapping all over the place, but other than that, I’m not doing anything else. There just comes a time when you figure: if it’s obvious, it’s obvious, and “oh well.” I’m burned, it hurts, and my comfort is worth more than looking good. Besides that, I won’t heal if I wear bras and the prosthesis, which, by the way, does have a name. Oh yes, I saw on the side of her box that she actually has three names, but I can’t remember all three. They sounded kind of hoity-toity, all put together, but the first name is Harmony, so Harmony it is, and that’s how I refer to her. Harmony, however, is in her box for now and probably for the remainder of radiation. Dr. Radiation Oncologist (Dr. RO) gave me a prescription for burn cream that I’m to put on the burn twice a day, after radiation and before bedtime.

It’s amazing how going through all of this treatment and its accompanying side effects changes you. I never in a million years would have guessed that I would ever be somewhat nonchalant about going to work as Judy One Boob, but here I am. I say somewhat because I am still a bit self-conscious, but not so much that I’m trying all sorts of things to hide the fact that I only have one breast. I’m wearing a shirt that is more likely to hide that fact, but other than that, anyone who is the least bit perceptive would be able to tell. This is how it’s going to be, though. My skin needs to heal. No more “anything for fashion.”

I’ve gone through a lot with all of the treatment that I’ve endured. I’ve lost my hair, my eyebrows, my eyelashes. I lost the taste for a lot of food and drinks. I stopped drinking coffee during chemotherapy because I lost the taste for it, and since it’s healthier not to start up again, I haven’t. Not such a big deal really, but I was once a huge coffee drinker. I stopped drinking all forms of alcohol since the cancer spread to my liver and I want to, as I say, “protect my little liver.” My one friend wants my next CT scan to show that there’s no cancer in my liver so I can start drinking again. ???? Why would one necessarily mean the other? Why would a clean scan mean that I would start drinking again? Why should I start drinking again? I didn’t drink much before anyways. It doesn’t mean I won’t ever drink again; it just means that the decision rests with me, not with the results of a test and not with peer pressure. That seemed very odd to me.

I’ve lost a sense of innocence, I guess you’d call it — but maybe that’s not the right word. I don’t know if by that age I was really “innocent.” But I lost something. I lost assuming that I would live until a ripe old age. I lost many assumptions. But I gained an appreciation for life, and I gained the knowledge that life is a gift, that growing older and growing old period is a gift.

I got weak, then weaker. I took poisons, toxins into my body, toxins that would weaken me so that they would save me. I got bloated from the steroids. I would sleep most of some weeks away. I lost some time with my son to gain some time with my son. I gained more faith in the Lord. I got closer to God and closer to many people. More people came into my life, through my blog, through my church, and through my cancer support group. Through the chemo room. Through serendipity. I loved and I love more.

So here I am, Judy One Boob because of a radiation burn. It hurts. It seemed to come on suddenly. Dr. RO told me that those burns are fairly typical because they occur where skin folds are. So it makes sense that I would get a burn where there’s a skin fold is, where the bra would hit the chest, the elastic part of the bra. I have incredibly fair skin and very sensitive skin as well. My chart in the oncology clinic says that the nurses should use paper tape on my skin, but they don’t always check the chart and I don’t always remind them. It’s just the regular tape or a bandaid leaves a mark on my skin if it’s used. I tell them I’m a petite delicate little flower, and then they laugh heartily.

This burn is just a side effect, after all. Just a bump on the way to health. I’ll take it . . . as I’ve taken the other side effects, indignities, discomforts . . .

I’ll take them all

for more time.
Cross-posted to Just Enjoy Him.


4 Responses to burn, baby, burn

  1. […] for more time. ______________________ Cross-posted to Mothers With Cancer. […]

  2. Sarah S. says:

    Sorry you are hurting! Camis are the best! I got all mine at Target too. They make it a little more comfy when you can’t wear a bra.
    But now that it is cold it will be a little easier. A dwon vest maybe. I like the scarf idea. Hang in there 🙂

  3. katbur says:

    Sorry to hear about your burn but I promise it will go away mostly. If it gives you a laugh I had a bilateral and have a bit of a gut. So when I was having radiation anyone who looked at me thought I was pregnant. Ah yes, the things we do to get through it all.

  4. Walk tall. If you carry yourself with self-confidence and joy, people will notice YOU and not your breasts (or lack thereof).

    I have mentioned several times, the doctor in my medical clinic, who often walks around with her stethoscope hanging on top of her missing breast. I never even noticed it before I had breast cancer. Now I wonder how I could have missed it!

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