Radiation, halfway done.

September 18, 2008
Love this!  It's in the radiation waiting room.

Love this! It

Radiation is still going well.  I’ve been told to expect some fatigue but it hasn’t shown up yet.  I do have a lovely pink rectangle though.  It reminds of a PBS shape song L has been singing lately.  🙂  (Bear with me, it’s just the way my mind rolls.)  Starting next week, I get what’s called a boost.  Right now I get radiation pretty much all over my upper left torso, but next week they’re going to concentrate on my scar area.  That’s where my cancer is most likely to recur.  The boost will also give the rest of my skin a break, giving it a chance to heal before the home stretch when we go back to irradiating the left side again.   Other than the pink rectangle, the only discomfort I’ve had is when skin touches skin.  Like where my armpit touches my side.  It’s uncomfortable and almost feels like it sticks together, but still nothing like some of the sunburns I’ve had in my life.  Here’s to hoping it won’t be.  🙂

Crossposted from ThrowsLikeAGirl

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I Just Wanna Be OK

September 8, 2008

The only time I have ever cried during treatment was in the seconds before my mastectomies.  As they wheeled me into the operating room I shed a few last minute tears in fear and anticipation. 

Today was the second time.

I arrived at my radiation appointment at 2 pm today.  They had shown me where I needed to go and change and the waiting room where I wait.  When they showed me before, the room was empty.  This time it was full of women.  As I walked in you could hear the conversation pause.  All eyes were on the newbie.  And I was getting those sad looks as if to say….she is way to young for this.

Because I was the youthful one in the bunch and there were limited chairs I decided to sit on the floor.  One of the ladies was called in and came back quickly.  She was extremely happy because she only has three more treatments….which is great.  As the ladies peppered her with questions about her treatment she proceeded to show us the siren red rectangles on her chest from radiation.

I was horrified.  The newbie almost got up and walked out.  I had a few moments of “how can I sneak out of this room without detection” thoughts racing through my head.  Not only that but I would have two of those siren red rectangles on my chest.  I love to know what is ahead of me on this journey….but I don’t know why, but I wanted to cry right there on the spot.

When I got into the radiation room I had to lay on a hard board with my hands above my head for what seemed like forever while they took pictures to know exactly where they beams would hit.  Th painful problem was that I had my mastectomies only a month ago and my muscles do not stretch over my head that well.  Within minutes I had no blood circulation to my arms.  When I asked if I could take a break they told me they would have to start all over again.  After a while they did give me a break but as I started the next time it felt worse.  This time I could tell these extremely nice ladies were getting very frustrated with me.  They wanted to get this process over.  The computers had crashed in the cancer center earlier in the day and they were running behind. 

When they told me I had to hold that position and not move the flood burst.  I laid there with tears streaming down my face.  I could sense them hurrying around me but it still took forever.  AND they didn’t even finish.  I still have to go in tomorrow and finish the picture on the other side. 

As I drove home in tears I realized that the marks on my chest they drew on me come to the middle of my upper chest.  Which means the final shred of dignity is lost.  I was just warming up to my new figure and feeling OK with my new look and now I realize that any remotely v neck shirts will show my siren red sunburn.  Great.

So as I near my house this song comes on the radio.

http://su2c.standup2cancer.org/sutv/lift.php  (click on the picture of Ingred Michaelson)

And I am reminded that I made it through chemo.  I made it through the removal of both breast.  I made it through a cancer diagnosis.  I will always be broken.  But I am never alone.  I have a wonderful community of people around me.

Then I got home and I came in the door and three little munchkins yelled “mommy’s home” and raced to the door to greet me.

I just might go back to radiation tomorrow.


Strong One

September 7, 2008

 

“But she said, “Don’t call me Naomi; call me Bitter. The Strong One has dealt me a bitter blow. I left here full of life, and God has brought me back with nothing but the clothes on my back. Why would you call me Naomi? God certainly doesn’t. The Strong One ruined me.”  (Ruth 1:20-21)

 

The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, you are probably somewhere between denial and acceptance or you have past through this journey.  I went through them.  I’m still going through them.

 

Tomorrow I start radiation.  Six weeks, everyday.  I am left to wonder how I might fair through all of this.  I have heard that some people fair better than others.  The biggest complaints are a sunburn feeling, including some as bad as blisters and fatigue.  Considering that I am fair skinned and grew up having allergic reactions to the sun called a sun rash at the beginning of every summer….I am a little fearful.

 

I am also a little angry.  I am just healing from the mastectomies.  I have worked diligently over the past two weeks to stretch and massage my scar as much as possible in hopes that I might fair better through radiation, but I still wake up every morning tight and I have to stretch again.  Sometimes in the mornings I wonder if all my work to gain flexibility is in vain.  But the truth is that I feel better than I did a few weeks ago even if I am sore every morning.

 

Every step of this process has forced me through these stages.  Obviously the early days were worse than they are today as I start radiation, but I have gone through denial at each step.  Last week I emailed my oncologist just to double check that I REALLY needed to do radiation. 

 

So I can identify with Naomi here.  Maybe you can too.  Maybe you have breast cancer, or maybe you have lost someone you love or maybe you’re being forced to trek through new territories. 

 

I am tempted at times to think that the Strong One has dealt me a bitter blow, but the truth is…..I think he’s angry for me today too.  Let me explain….

 

I view God in so many different ways.  I love the way the Message Bible translates Naomi’s description of God here as “Strong One.”  Without a doubt I believe He was strong enough to take away my cancer.  But He was also strong enough to allow me to have it as well.  AND he is also my friend and I have a personal relationship with Him and I believe He mourns with me and is angry with me and rejoices with me just as my best friend would.

 

When I was in college ministries I had a student who was angry with God.  There was just a lot of junk in her life and it just wasn’t a good idea to defend God at that present moment.  I just reminded her that Jesus cried out on the cross “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.”  I can’t know exactly what Jesus was thinking at that moment, but I think He felt forsaken and maybe even a bit angry hanging on that cross in humiliation and unimaginable agony.  He had a genuine relationship with the Father, He could be real.  You can be real with someone when you have built a relationship with them.

 

So be angry with God.  He is a big God.  I have shed a tear or two with Him over these past months and I probably will again tonight as I brave this unknown territory.  But He has been my rock so far.  He has gotten me through days I never thought would end.

 

He is the Strong One.  He is your Friend.