Radiation Cream for Breast Cancer Reviews, Part 2 | Battling Bertha

Taking a break from the 30 Women Who Mean Business Series today to share part 2 of my radiation cream for breast cancer video reviews.  Part 1 was filmed 6 months, ago!

I have had a box of radiation creams on my desk, waiting for me to film this second video, for 6 months.  Yes, 6 months.

Radiation Therapy is tough, and I am still feeling the effects months later.  The main culprit is fatigue.  I seem to have more ambition than energy.  Also, I still have fluid in my breast that was evident on my CT scan after surgery.  My blood work is within the “fine” range though my white blood cell count has been consistently low for several months.  Just not low enough to cause alarm for the oncologist.  I do have a PET scan scheduled this week.

All that aside, I filmed this video today to share my experience with different radiation relief creams:


CAUTION: Do not use any product on your breast or armpit in the three hours prior to your radiation therapy. The radiation could react with the cream and that’s not good. Also, you should not shave your armpits until you have completed all your treatments.


And the best overall radiation cream for breast cancer is:


Ann’s Herbals Herbal Salve is a wonderful radiation cream for breast cancer.

Way to Disturb the Universe, Monica Lewinsky

People often disturb the universe unintentionally.

Monica Lewinsky did not wake up one morning and say “Hey, today is the day I’m going to tell the entire world about the affair I am having with a married man who just happens to be the President of the United States.”

In fact, if it had been up to Monica, the sordid details of her private life would have remained, well, private. Her universe, and the entire world, it seemed, were quite disturbed.

Monica Lewinsky was the first victim of the dark side of the internet. Now, she is using her notoriety as the first person to be publicly shamed online to disturb the universe intentionally.

I was mesmerized by her talk to the Forbes Under 30 Summit.

Monica Lewinsky disturbs the universe at Forbes under 30 Summit. Click To Tweet

Way to turn your life around, Monica.  You go girl!

Michelle Bowers, Fiber Artist Interview

Michelle Bowers, Fiber Artist Interview

Yesterday, my little family spent the afternoon at First Saturday Arts Market in the Heights neighborhood of Houston, Texas.  We brought along our video and podcasting equipment with the intent of finding three artists to interview for our Handmade in Texas website.

I know what you thinking.  Yesterday was not the first Saturday of the month.  It’s been raining here for a few weeks and the market was rained out and postponed the first 2 Saturdays of January.

Yesterday was gorgeous.  Perfect weather for an arts market and the turn out at the market was incredible.

The first artist we interviewed was Michelle Bowers from Katy, Texas.  She is a self-taught fiber artist who developed her skills while playing with her small children.  Now that her children are older, she has turned her hobby into a work at home business.

I am so excited to share this video interview with my work at home audience here at Gratitude Geek first, before we release it on Handmade in Texas!

Here is a link to the video on YouTube: http://youtu.be/TinAtDvV5Jc

Turn hobby into business. #Interview with fiber artist Michelle Bowers. #BlogBoost Click To Tweet

Hope you enjoyed the interview as much as I did.  Michelle Bowers, fiber artist, proves that you can turn a craft that you love into a business while raising your small children.  She will certainly inspire moms with young children to pursue your passion profitably!

Connect with Michelle Bowers, Fiber Artist

More from Gratitude Geek

Flush a PICC line with saline and Heparin at home.

How to Flush a PICC Line with Saline and Heparin | Battling Bertha

If you have a PICC line, it needs daily flushing with saline and Heparin to keep the line clean and prevent blood clotting.

A couple of months ago, with the help of chemotherapy nurses Renne and Kim from Greater Houston Cancer Clinic, we created a video with step-by-step instructions on how to flush a PICC line with saline and Heparin for my husband so that he could do the needed task at home.  Kim did a great job filming while Renne walked through the process on camera.

Before beginning the flush, gather your supplies.  Talk to your healthcare team, usually your chemo nurses, about the specific supplies YOU need for your PICC. Here is what we used in the video:

  • Latex-free gloves
  • Alcohol Prep Pad x 2
  • Heparin x 2
  • Saline x 2
  • Steri-cap x 2
  • Towel to keep your clothes dry and clean
  • Bio-hazard collection box

Now watch the video to learn how to flush a PICC line with saline and Heparin:

Video: How to flush a PICC line with saline and Heparin at home #blogboost #cancercare Click To Tweet

Why Flush a PICC Line with Saline and Heparin?

Here is an actual X-Ray of my PICC:

flush a PICC line with saline and heparin at home

Internal View of PICC

“A PICC is inserted in a peripheral vein in the arm, such as the cephalic vein, basilic vein or brachial vein, and then advanced proximally toward the heart through increasingly larger veins, until the tip rests in the distal superior vena cava or cavoatrial junction.” – Wikipedia

Think about it. Why wouldn’t you want something that delivers medicine that close to your heart to be clean and clot free?  I mean, seriously?

Lesson in Shading | Caturday

Last month my daughter turned 16.

Most girls her age want cars, or the latest iPhone, for their 16th birthday.

Not my daughter.

The only thing my daughter wanted for her 16th birthday was a fluffy kitty. She was rather specific. Not only did the kitty need to be fluffy, the kitty must also be black.

My husband, Shane, and I were a bit concerned about adding a new kitty to the household.  You see we already have two geriatric pets.  A Siamese named Cashmere who is eighteen.  Yes, the cat is older than the kid.  We also have an Aussie/terrier mix named Muffy who is about 9 years old.  How would either of them react to a kitten?

We decided to take the risk and check out kitties at the local shelter.

My daughter is very thoughtful.  It takes her a long time to make a decision.  However, when she does, it is usually a good one.

We spent hours at the shelter.  We pet a lot of kitties.  Finally, we settled on a fluffy black 6 month old male the shelter had named Khadgar.  Khadgar just didn’t work for us, so we decided to change his name.

Again, my daughter takes a long time to make a decision.

About a week after we brought him home, the fluffy kitty was named Shade.

Lesson in Shading

Shade is a great cat.  Playful.  Friendly.  Even the dog likes him.  Cashmere, not so much, but I think she is warming up to him.  I may just need to devote an entire series of posts to his antics.  Caturday has a nice ring to it.

Here’s a video of Shane teaching Shade how to draw.  Or is it the other way?

More from Gratitude Geek

Ringing the Bell after my Final Radiation Therapy for Breast Cancer | Battling Bertha #25

Today is Thanksgiving here in the USA.  I have much for which to be thankful this year.

It may seem odd to many that I feel gratitude during a time in which I am battling for my life.  Yet, there are so many reasons to feel grateful.  I found Bertha early.  Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, I have very good health insurance.  I have amazing doctors and caregivers.  My family has been beyond supportive.  My friends have been true soldiers in my battle.  Both my greeting card business, and the custom furniture company I run with my husband, continue to do well.  My cup truly runneth over.

Today, I am filled with appreciation as I share photos from an event that took place 10 days ago, my final dose of radiation therapy for breast cancer.

Ringing the Bell after Radiation Therapy for Breast Cancer

I received 36 daily doses of radiation therapy for breast cancer, interrupted by a short hospitalization. On November 17, 2014 I celebrated my final therapy session by adding my pink hand print to the wall leading into the therapy room and then an enthusiastic ringing of the bell.

Shanta was there for almost every dose of radiation therapy I received. Her last day at the center was Friday, the 14th, and so she was going to miss my final day. I am so grateful to Shanta for taking her lunch hour from her new job to come and celebrate with me!

Mimi is the receptionist, she keeps things running smoothly in the office and would stash my favorite candy to the side so there was always a piece for me to enjoy before therapy.

Shanta and Mimi

Shanta and Mimi

Dr. Lewis has a big heart and very patiently answered all of my questions. Her nurse, Beverly, was not in the office for my celebration, but it should be noted that she is very sweet and kind, as well.

Dr. Lewis, my Radiation Oncologist

Dr. Lewis, my Radiation Oncologist

Unless you are a regular follower of my blog, you are probably wondering why George Clooney is in the all the photos. I named the radiation machine (linear accelerator) George Clooney. I figured if someone was going to see me naked everyday, it might as well be George Clooney.

This machine is George Clooney

This machine is George Clooney.

Lacey is the lead therapist at the clinic.  Did you know that becoming a radiation therapist requires a 5-year bachelor of science degree in Radiation Therapy and that less than a handful of schools in Texas offer the degree program?  It’s a highly specialized field and requires a warm personality, as well as, smarts.

Lacey, the lead Radiation Therapist

Lacey, the lead Radiation Therapist

The staff at Apollo Cancer Center were all wonderful. Rafael, another of my regular therapists was not there for my final treatment, but you can see a photo of him dressed us Gru from Despicable Me here.  I can’t say that I will miss therapy, but I will always think fondly of the staff.

I can't say I'll miss therapy, but these ladies made it fun.

I can’t say I’ll miss therapy, but these ladies made it fun.

Lacey was inspired to start the tradition of collecting patient hand prints on the wall leading into the therapy room after their final treatment by the clinic where she served her residency. It was rather inspiring to know that all those patients had survived the process before me.

Celebrating with all who came before me.

Celebrating with all who came before me.

I chose to make my hand print pink.

Okay, so survived might be a harsh word.

Pink for Breast Cancer

Pink for Breast Cancer.

It’s not that radiation therapy hurts, it doesn’t. Well, the radiation burns suck. It is just a rather emotional experience.

I'm pinked up and ready to print.

I’m pinked up and ready to print.

I mean seriously, here I am bald, laying on a table with my deformed, scarred breast exposed, while people I just recently met move me around on a narrow table and write with permanent markers on my bare skin.

Choosing to to find the humor in the situation made it bearable. I share more about coping with emotions during radiation therapy in a post from several weeks ago.

I can't believe I let them take pictures of me without my wig!

I can’t believe I let them take pictures of me without my wig!

So, it was not hard for me to take one of those very same permanent markers and sign my name on the wall next to my pink hand print.

It's Official.  I'm done!

It’s Official. I’m done!

After getting dressed, I headed back to the lobby where my friend Tanya was waiting to help me complete the final task. the ringing of the bell:

I am not sure who started the tradition of bell ringing. I couldn’t find much info on Google. If you know how the tradition came about, please share in the comments.  I do know that it was very satisfying to ring that bell.

A huge thank you to Tanya for coming out to celebrate with me!

Thank You Tanya for Celebrating with Me!

Thank You Tanya for Celebrating with Me!

I will probably share one or two more posts about radiation therapy because it was such a huge part of my treatment plan, and I feel like I need to share a little more.  For example, how I treated the radiation burns.  All in due time.

Today, I will enjoy my family and the amazing non-traditional Korean meal I prepared in lieu of turkey.

Happy Thanksgiving! Gobble! Gobble!


Ta Da! This is the Wig!

I Visit Gayla Wigs after Chemo Made My Hair Fall Out | Battling Bertha #24

Gayla Wigs is a full service wig salon in The Woodlands, Texas.

I visited Gayla Wigs after chemo made my hair fall out, with my dear friends Judy and Joy, to pick out a new ‘do.  The experience was much like that at a high-end hair salon, except I was able to see the end results before committing to a style.  I tried on several wigs before settling on the final choice.

Close, but not quite the right wig.

Close, but not quite the right wig.

Shall We Take Her Picture?

Shall We Take Her Picture?

Wigs After Chemo

A few tips before you purchase wigs after chemo:

  • Go to a salon and try on different styles.  The wigs look different on your head than they do in the photos so ordering online can be tricky.
  • Experiment with color and style.  Your wig doesn’t have to look like your real hair.  The people who matter already know you are bald underneath that wig.  Why not have fun?
  • Take a friend, or two, with you for moral support.
With Gayle Stan, owner of Gayla Wigs

With Gayle Stan, owner of Gayla Wigs

Connect with Gayla Wigs

After wig fitting photo opp.

After wig fitting photo opp.

Coping with Emotions During Radiation Therapy | Battling Bertha 18 | #BlogBoost

For me, radiation therapy is the most difficult of my cancer treatments.  It doesn’t hurt physically.  It is over rather quickly.  If you close your eyes, you barely know it is happening.

Oh, but the emotions!

Emotions During Radiation Therapy

If you have breast cancer and will be receiving radiation therapy as part of your treatment plan, here is what you need to know:

Coping with emotions during radiation therapy takes imagination and humor.

Coping with emotions during radiation therapy takes imagination and humor.

  • Half a dozen people will see your breasts, while you are awake and alert.
  • You will hear everything  they say and be required to carry on conversation, while your breasts are exposed.  More than half a dozen people see your breasts during surgery, but you are asleep and you never see or hear them.
  • Your hands and feet will be bound so that you can not move.
  • They will use paint pens to draw x’s and o’s on your body.  This will make you look like a football play book.  The marks remain on your body for the entire course of treatment and need to be reapplied if they fade.
  • Before your first actual treatment, you go through a CT Simulation to ensure you are aligned correctly for treatment.  This means that not only will your hands and feet be bound, but you will also be inserted into a tube the size of a torpedo bay.

The cumulative effect of all of the above is emotions.  Humiliation.  Lack of control.  Embarrassment.  Self-pity.  Humor.

I am a rather happy go lucky gal.  During my CT Sim, with my hands uncomfortably positioned above my head, my feet bound, and a torpedo tube making clicking sounds all around me, tears began to roll down my cheeks.

As we were leaving the appointment, my husband, who had been in the waiting room during the procedure, asked how it went.  I choked back more tears and replied:  “I don’t want to talk about.”

Coping with the Emotions

Everyday, around one in the afternoon, George Clooney makes sweet, sweet love to me.  I share the details of our torrid affair in the following video:



I use my imagination and a lot of humor to make it through my radiation therapy.  Heck, it’s what is getting me through this whole ordeal.

What are some of the ways that you cope with emotions during radiation therapy, or any awkward, uncomfortable or just downright frightening situation?  Leave a comment.  Your suggestion just might help someone who is struggling right now.