It turns out that I had reason to be concerned about Radiation Therapy. For me, the side effects were hard.
My skin was burned, red, sore, and blistered. It wasn't exactly like a typical burn, because the muscles and fascia and bones underneath were also burned. "Acute Radiation Myodermatitis" is the name and I could feel it. The side effects are delayed and cumulative, so I had no skin changes until the last week of therapy and then things got more intense from there for several weeks.
The seroma (collection of fluid) under my left mastectomy incision that was left over from surgery got much larger and needed to be drained. Twice. After the second time, the surgeon left a drain in place. When my fever increased, the redness in my skin increased, and I felt bad, we started antibiotics. When I kept deteriorating, I went to the hospital for IV antibiotics. Two days and two nights in the hospital turned things around. Nothing but improvement since then, but it's been slow going.
I have deep respect for Radiation Therapy. Of course I can't know what it has done for me, but the statistics say folks who get RT are more likely to live longer and avoid breast cancer recurrence. I am down for both of those outcomes for me. Powerful medicine. And powerful side effects.
These days I feel well. I am back on my yoga mat, in the gym, in my garden, and back in the office for a full schedule and seeing patients in person (and virtually when requested). I have minimal discomfort and few limitations. My pond is calling to me and I am hoping my surgeon will soon support my wish to return to swimming. Forbidden fruit sure sounds sweet.