A previous post describing the microscopic margin between the tissue sample and the cancer was called ‘a hair’s breadth‘ but I’ve since learnt the gap of 0.02mm is actually about a third of the width of a hair. It’s for this reason that I’m proceeding with a course of radiotherapy. This will involve trips each weekday to Lismore, (about a 50 minute drive away) for up to five weeks. I’m hoping to get away with a shorter course, but will need to consult with the radiologist first (appointment pending).

While clearly this will be an administrative arse ache, I am encouraged to hear radiotherapy isn’t too taxing. Short term, lots of people get tired towards the end of their course, and the skin can take on a sunburned hue. But these effects fade with time. Longer term, the story is different. My reconstruction would almost certainly be compromised as the skin, while it appears recovered, is damaged on the surface and underneath. It’s inelastic, slow to heal and not easy to get a good cosmetic result from.

This is the side effect which concerns me the most. But not one to take likely outcomes lying down, I’ve searched long and hard to find ways to limit this damage and so improve my chance of a good outcome. My first search led me to Miaderm cream. Or more accurately Miaderm Cancer Radiation Treatment Skin Relief Lotion. The folks at Miaderm *really* want you to find them through Google. Which I did. It’s earned 54 five-star ratings on Amazon. “I had a consult with my radiation oncologist yesterday as I finish my last week of treatment, and he is amazed that the burns are as minimal as they are.” reads one of the dozens of testimonials. I’ll take a triple pack, please.

Around this time I journeyed down another rabbit hole which led me to learn more about Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy or HBOT. The chamber deep sea divers go into to prevent them getting the bends is being touted as a medical miracle. HBOT involves a sealed chamber where 100% oxygen (about five times the amount that’s in normal air) gets pumped into it. Plus the pressure is raised to increase each cell’s ability to absorb the oxygen. This accelerates the body’s healing ability.

The machines are not readily accessible within Australia. Major hospitals, football clubs, the odd swanky urban health farm. And where else? You’ve guessed it: Mullumbimby. I walked the ten minute journey from my home to find out some more. “Hello.” said a young gentlewoman who had the serenity of someone who starts her days with green juices and salutes to the sun. “Excuse me while I finish my lunch.” I smiled amenably. “It’s raw sprouted bread” she said, in a very unserene  voice. It took ALL and I mean ALL my composure to keep my eye muscles from rolling. She proceeded to speak knowledgeably about the range of ailments HBOT treats. “Of all the treatment we offer, it’s the one that I swear by most.” I couldn’t help it, my mind replaced her words with the one that isn’t *complete* bullshit. To be fair she mounted a really compelling case and answered my numerous questions, but she started to lose me when she hinted that radiotherapy was carcinogenic whereas HBOT can cure cancer. I stopped the eye roll but gave her one of my trademark eyebrow arches each of you will have witnessed. She returned to safer ground of length of treatment, availability and cost.

Before discovering the local HBOT on offer, I read a dozen public domain medical studies about HBOT and there is not a single shred of evidence to support the cancer cure claim but there is quite a lot of evidence that it helps heal radiation injuries, particularly those sustained by bowel and throat cancers treated by radiotherapy. So on this basis, I’m going to go ahead and buy a 20 visit pass (thus keeping the staff in veritable mountains of raw sprouted bread) and go on the same days as the radiotherapy. For the first time ever, I’ll be taking leave from work. I’ll be less present at home AND less useful when I’m there. It’s very, very far from ideal.

But that’s cancer for you.

A very big motivation for the writing of this particular post is the hope it can end up helping others in my situation. SO excuse me while I do some good old fashioned keyword stuffing of my own. Effects of radiotherapy on reconstruction, radiation damage, oxygen therapy, HBOT, Miaderm, helpful, improve result.

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