The half way point of radiation would be at 16.5 treatments according to my radiation oncologist. Today I had number 17. So far, I’m doing pretty well. My skin is a little pink and slightly itchy on my collar bone. My energy is fine. I’ve been keeping really busy. I started volunteering in Phoebe’s classroom once a week. I just did a volunteer training with the American Cancer Society. I’ve been doing a few hair cut and colors here and there. I’ve taken my kids to their own doctor’s appointments (not just mine!). Life is clipping along.
Radiation is an everyday thing, but it is such a small part of my day. It’s actually a small part of my life. Cancer, as a concept, appears to be shrinking. Life feels more and more “normal”. And that feels so good. Yet it feels so scary. I think irrationally, “If I go back to normal, then cancer will get me again just like last time.” I don’t know what to do with those thoughts other than take note and disregard them (after a mild panic attack).
The radiation experience is kind of pleasant. I walk into the clinic, and Elena who works the front desk, has my wristband ready for me. She has seen me parked for a few minutes. I’m almost always on my cell phone (brain cancer next, folks…). She never seems to mind. She places it on my wrist as I try to end the call. Next, I walk over to the computer with a handheld scanner. I hold it up to my card with a barcode they gave me to make check in quicker. It’s fun adulting sometimes, even when you’re doing it for cancer. Making the scanner beep is subtly satisfying. The wait time is usually no longer than a few minutes. The radiation therapists are always incredibly warm and answer all my random questions. They get me situated on the machine and line me up with all the lasers. They leave the room and the radiation machine makes a buzzing noise. Then it moves and buzzes again. I hear a total of five buzzes before I know I can move my body. That part takes maybe five minutes. And then I’m done. It’s really no big deal. Almost everyday I think of Marie Curie, the Nobel prize-winning scientist who pioneered radiation therapy. I’m just amazed that someone figured out that this works. It’s such a mysterious treatment. You see nothing. You feel nothing. You hear a buzz and then you’re done. Oh, and by the way, some cancer was killed. It’s fascinating to me.
Here’s where I spend about 10-15 minutes a day: