Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Chest Pains

Last night, I felt sharp pains deep in my chest, on the right side. So deep, it almost felt like it was toward my back. When I coughed or tried to pop my ears by holding my nose and breathing out, the pain was very strong. It also hurt a bit when I strained my right chest area -- by bending or lifting my arm a certain way. I woke up with the same pain this morning, so I called my oncologist’s office and the nurse told me to come in. By the time I got to the doctor’s office, the pain had stopped. Figures.

The doc said it wasn’t my heart, because the pain was on my right side, and the lungs sounded fine as well. She said the pain was probably due to nerve damage from the radiation.

I’m relieved that it’s nothing to worry about, but I also know that something like this could happen again and it could be serious. I’m scheduled to have a chest X-ray and liver scan next week when I go for my Herceptin treatment. That’ll be the first big post-treatment test to see if cancer’s come back. I can’t wait to have that test so I can be reassured that cancer cells aren’t quietly spreading through my body. But these tests aren’t foolproof, I know, so I’ll never have complete reassurance. Just one teeny tiny microscopic cancer cell left behind is all it takes to get the cancer colony started again. And then I’m back where I started, only with a body that’s already been damaged by chemo and radiation.

I just read about a woman undergoing chemo who peed on the grass in her backyard. The next day, she noticed a bald patch in the grass where she’d peed. The chemo drugs inside her body were so toxic that her pee killed the grass on contact. The grass didn’t come back on that patch for an entire year. Yikes. And to think this is the best weapon we have to fight cancer. This and zapping with radioactive rays that cause cancer themselves. Not a very fair fight.

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