Thursday, January 17, 2013

Reality...

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I finished my 33rd and final radiation treatment today. I am overwhelmed with relief. With New Zealand on the horizon and a lifetime of dreams on the line, I was so worried I'd break out into a huge, infected blister and have to worry about getting myself healed in 3 short weeks before my obligations abroad began.

Reality is, cancer is rough. To kill cancer, they have to pump poison through your body. So much poison that your hair falls out and your fingernails and taste buds die and you become disoriented. Reality is, it's so hard to kill cancer that they prefer to cut it out of you. So they do. They cut body parts off of you to save your life. Cancer is so strong that when it grows in places where they cannot cut it out, they burn it to death - killing everything in its path.

I am pretty sure I sat and watched all of the above play out in front of me as my life (and this blog) became all about cancer. But still, as I sat and watched them navigate the scans of my body every day before radiation, I thought, "certainly this isn't MY BODY they're looking at!" And even as I look down at my burnt, nippleless chest, and feel the fuzz that's slowly becoming hair on my head, I think, "I didn't have cancer. I had chemo, and surgery, and radiation... what is cancer anyway???"

To read this, you might think that I'm in some kind of denial about what's happened. Don't worry, I'm not. I'm well aware of what's happened and what could happen from here. But it's a strange notion to have this disease that never had a chance to make you sick, but that's so strong that they have to bring you as close to death as possible to save your life. You do find yourself thinking, "But, I wasn't sick...  I was gonna run seven miles the day I was diagnosed. I'd just climbed the highest mountain in Africa!"

Sorry if it's too much skin, but it's really just skin. Burnt skin with the last "radiation sticker" halfway peeled off. It's gone now... A HUGE victory for me!!!
My daily routine with radiation started with the dressing room. I'd sign in, walk straight to the dressing room, change into my gown, and wait for the technician to call me into the treatment room over the loud speaker. Turns out, that little waiting room becomes a sort of happy hour/counseling session for the ladies undergoing treatment. Like the chemo treatment center, I have made so many great friends in my time in this little room. I love these women. I find myself wanting to do anything I can to make their lives easier; they are so lovely. I will miss seeing them every day.

Walking out of the treatment center today, I saw this posted on the bulletin board. I literally belly laughed!

It's weird to me that something that is supposed to be so restrictive and deadly has brought me more life and happiness than I could have imagined possible. I don't get it. I don't pretend to, but I am very, very grateful for it.



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