The cancer journey continues long after the surgeries are over and the doctors appointments and radiation is done.
They gave me notice that the radiation stays in your system for some time and the fatigue will be with me for months.
I am not as bad as I was early on in the journey but I could still rest quite often and feel the need to nap.
It’s hard to stop and tell myself I need to nap, or rest or just be still.
Naps are not easy for me but I soon will learn to stop and rest as I need to, believe me, the body will let me know.
The after affects are definitely here, along with rashes and some pain and discomfort.
Kind of like the war is continuing.
Then we have a quarantine because of the virus that is creating great turmoil in our world.
I have to stay away from crowds as I am considered fragile in health since radiation.
It really doesn’t bother me as a ‘introvert’ by nature staying home is a gift, and a joy.
I don’t like to be around large crowds.
The biggest disappointment is the NBA cancelling the basketball games.
I am a huge fan of our Portland Trailblazers and now they are not playing.
What will I do with my time now? one can only watch so much HGTV shows.
Soon the spring weather will kick in and we can do a bit of walking.
Today it dusted very light snow in our area. Nothing sticking just a dusting in the air.
Crazy days with crazy weather.
The cancer journey continues and will continue up to six months to a year.
The residual will be with me: so I adapt and I move through each day and enjoy it.
As a gift from God. One more time.
The cancer journey continues long after the surgeries are over and the doctors appointments and radiation is done.
Yesterday was our son’s birthday.
All day long I remembered back 45 years ago when I was young and so new to this parenting role.
Growing a baby is hard work and when you are little like I was it was a big deal for me.
I started out at about 88 pounds and ended up around 108 pounds when I delivered.
He was a beautiful baby. Our first born.
The hospital was an old one and after our son was born they closed it down for ever.
There were three babies and they were the last to be born in that setting.
My day began as a planned induced birth. The doctor did not want me any bigger.
So after we got there and settled in our room, they set up the IV drip to start labor.
I didn’t do anything most of the day. Just hanging out in the bed and visiting with my husband.
When the shift changed I do remember a new nurse coming into the room.
She reminded me of an army nurse who was always taking charge of things.
Her first reaction when seeing me was, “why are you not in labor?”.
I of course knew nothing as a young mom who never had a baby before.
She said, “well I think you need to have this baby sooner than later and on my shift.”
So she turned to IV drip UP.
Imagine yourself on a bed, moving from no contractions, NO labor to movement every few minutes.
I was fully in labor and had him in less than two hours.
From no labor at all to full labor and pushing.
She came into the room on her shift at 3:00 and our son was born at 5:35 pm.
YES now that I’m older I realize how crazy that was for her to do that.
She wanted that baby born before dinner.
And of course even though he was; I was not in any mood for food at that time.
Our son, Christopher was born and he weighed 6 pounds 3 3/4 ounces.
A beautiful little guy we both fell in love with.Yesterday was our son’s birthday. A lot has changed since that first ‘birth’ day.
He has three boys of his own now. He’s a dad, a husband and a professional man.
We are super proud of him and we are very blessed to call him our son.
The other day I was thinking about this crazy journey we have been on.
I checked my calendar dates and wrote them down.
Beginning in December 2019
Dec 9th, mammogram extended plus ultrasound
Dec 12th biopsy
Dec 16th cancer diagnosis
Dec 19th first visit with surgeon
Dec 20th MRI
Dec 26th sick with upper bronchial illness
Dec 30th 2nd visit with surgeon
Jan 7th new year surgery day
Jan 16th told the margins were clear
Jan 20th two week check up
Jan 21st radiation appointment
Jan 29th oncologist appointment
Feb 3rd CT scan and tattoo’s
Feb 5th bone scan
Feb 10th radiation began for 16 days ending
No wonder I have been tired.
Actually we both have been very tired; it takes a lot out of someone to do so much and even though I was the patient my husband was the driver and doing a lot of waiting.
The other day I was doing some thinking and although the journey is not over; the hard parts of the beginning phase is.When you first drive up to a cancer center, it makes you feel changed.
You are at that moment entering into a new phase, a new chapter, a new set of experiences.
The world of radiation. (as I jokingly shared on my facebook page, beam me up scotty)
This room, this machine, not only creates change within you for good, it will also change you forever
I am not the same as I was in the beginning.
This room is a bit scary and also a bit overwhelming.
There is no relaxing. It is a choice to breathe and trust in this process.
This is how it is when the radiation is given; only in the treatment time I did not have a gown on.
It is YOU and this big machine. Alone in your thoughts, for just about 6 minutes.
There are large steel doors and lights that flash telling others the radiation is on.
For 16 days I was here, doing this treatment.
And then the day came and I was able to leave earlier than planned.
The doctor released me 4 days early.
When this happens you thank God for the blessing of a shorter session time but you are going to miss the technicians.
I honestly could be friends with them they were so kind and nice.
I wanted to show the man in this picture standing beside me, his smile is amazing; but I don’t have permission and I don’t feel like I can put him on my public blog without him knowing it.
At first I tapped it very carefully and it didn’t ring so then I really hit it and it set off a glorious sound telling me I was done.
Recovery is not finished but that part of my work is done.
The other day I was doing some thinking about this long and different journey.
And I promised myself that I will help another one who enters into this so they are not alone.
I finished the third week of radiation, 15 sessions, 15 days.
When I saw my doctor on Wednesday she said I didn’t have to go through to the day 20.
So it will be 16 sessions total and I will be done.
The treatments will soon be over and so will be the driving.
When someone is diagnosed with a cancer diagnosis it rocks your world.
It changes you because at some point; I think we all get to the feeling that nothing can touch us.
Not true, because we don’t live in a perfect world, things happen that do change us.
I am not the same person that I was 85 days ago.
When they told me it was positive, that the cancer needed to be removed; it did not shake me or rattle me.
I knew in my heart the journey would be another opportunity; for me to share hope, share in the reality that life is short and precious and valued.
I always desire to leave others with thoughtful words and also a reason to look at the positive.
Even in the middle of extreme negative news, there is a glimmer of positive somewhere.
You know the saying, “the glass is half full or half empty?” It doesn’t matter so long as you have one.
AND what do you choose to do with it?
Monday will be my last day for this journey.
I won’t enter the doors again.
I won’t walk down the hall and get a gown.
I won’t sit and wait for them to come get me.
It will be a new change and that is perfectly ok.
Each day as I walked down the hall I was aware of a chemo room, where others were resting while a drip enters their system.
It is a sacred journey for each of us.
Perhaps a tighter grasp on life.
If you have to get treated this was an amazing place.
I met wonderful medical staff and I would highly recommend the setting.
They are there to do a job and they did it extremely well for me.
As I walked out of the room and building; I was reminded that spring will be here soon.
We will have flowers to plant and beaches to visit and birthdays to celebrate in.
This little delay for treatment was just a little blip in my world. I call it a ‘Pause’.
What I learned from this experience?
There are others for me to pray for who are still walking this line of recovery and illness.
God is bigger than the big “C” word.
We know HE can heal and we know of His amazing power.
I finished the third week of radiation and I have one more day to go.
Then I can say, for now; that part is over.
I finished the second week of radiation.
My husband drives me every day for an hour for an appointment; that takes about seven to ten minutes, then drive home for another hour till the next day.
I purposely made the appointment times at noon.
That way it is a slow moving morning, for coffee and shower and prepping my head around another radiation treatment.
The medical people are very nice and I feel; even though it’s their job every day there also something I can do to be a light, a joyful presence for a short amount of time for them.
When you go into the room you are placed on a metal table with a pillow. They always ask if I want a warm blanket and I did once; but somehow that doesn’t seem to help the environment setting.
They position me on the table and then leave me alone in the room full of radioactive signs that say, “do not enter. caution.”
A large machine moves across my chest and beams a red beam at different angles.
I looked into it once and then decided I valued my eyesight so I look on the ceiling now.
I can’t feel anything happening it is just a low humming sound.
My skin is responding good so far, leaving me with just a small amount of residual redness.
As I lay on the hard metal table I remind myself the cancer is gone; this is just a preventative measure.
Cancer will always be in the back of our minds and in my chart. But it does not define me.
My God is greater and more powerful than the word cancer.
I feel incredibly blessed that it was found quickly and the biopsy procedure removed it.
Spring is coming and I will do what I can to enjoy the sun, flowers and moments.
I finished the second week of radiation and soon there will be more.
How I deal with it, is a choice I must make everyday.
I finished the first week of radiation sessions.
Getting used to the routine now, at first I would change into the gown and then get a bathrobe too.
Now I just get a gown on and hold it in the back until they need me to walk down the hall.
The session really only takes about 15 minutes; that includes changing into the gown and waiting for them.
It is fast, and I they tell me very effective.
Most days they have a video on the ceiling so when you are laying there alone in the radioactive room, you can watch something nice like a field of flowers in the wind, or the oceans waves.
The technicians and doctor are all very nice and I have no complaints about any of the experience.
The doctor I see every Wednesday is very good with lots of information and I feel I am in good care.
Twenty sessions should do what they were expecting.
I have three weeks left. Fifteen more days on the road driving to and from; then back home for lunch.
I made my appointments all at noon.
That way I can get up, shower without hurrying and get my breakfast and coffee.
I hate to race out the door.
I am by nature not a morning person.
Usually I am awake and moving by eight but not rushing to go somewhere.
Now my husband likes to get up and get things done.
I am supposed to look for signs of fatigue and signs of redness and burning on my skin.
I am supposed to use a cream they recommended and be sure to wash it off before my treatment.
It feels strange and surreal to me at times, as I lay on the table doing treatment.
I finished my first week of radiation and I am heading into more.
Cancer will not be my banner, but it has to be put in my medical file.
It was for sure positive. It was for sure the best possible kind to get. It was for sure enclosed within itself.
I am thankful and full of praise that it was not worse and that it was removed.
Some people don’t get to say that.
(This is not my picture but it says so much in reference of cancer and surgery… I pray it’s ok to use it.)
Today would be my sister’s birthday,
She passed away June eighth of last year.
She was about fourteen months older than me.
I was the youngest of three daughters.
I was not able to see her before she died and that will always be a ‘hard thing’ for me to deal with.
It just couldn’t happen and I had to come to terms with the knowing, ‘she was dying without me’.
I know she was a believer and I do think and feel in my heart that she went home to heaven.
She had a rough life with many lives as we always teased her about ‘which one she was using up this time.’
(you know like a cat has nine lives?)
She was a survivor.
A challenge on many levels, and I often thought of the song in Sound of Music, “How do you solve a problem like Maria?” Because she was like that, she wasn’t a problem she just had many complicated issues to deal with and as she aged those issues magnified.
She was on hospice two times. She had a lot of humor and when she wasn’t; she was pretty simple and sometimes difficult to deal with. She was one of those children years ago, who should have required more help in school.
She grew up and did ok. Her ability to adapt was always there and she learned to be very street smart.
She had a husband who loved her till the day he died.
As she aged we were able to move her to an assisted living home and she had an apartment full of stuff; it would look like a well kept hoarder space.
Not garbage or junk just a lot of stuff crammed into many shelves, cabinets or drawers.
She smoked many years and that finally caught up with her.
I was her advocate for many years. Even as the little sister I spoke words to the professionals about her.
She never finished school, and never really drove very much. (Thank God)
I brought her home from Arkansas paying her way because I knew if I didn’t she would never come back home.
She did and so did her family.
Today would be my sister’s birthday. The first one since she passed away.
I will always miss her, and always remember the times we spent together.
Mary I miss you, and I pray you are once more with the one who loved you.
Continuing this journey of healing, Monday the 3rd I went into the radiology cancer center for the beginning phase of radiation.
They led me into a back waiting room and I sat down while waiting for someone to tell me what I was supposed to do next, this is all new to me and I was very unsure.
A man walked by and asked if I was waiting for something, “Yes I am here for the first procedure.”
He told me I would need a gown and a robe for privacy and showed me where to change.
Then he told me it would be a CT scan which surprised me.
I changed and waited for another lady to come get me.
We entered a room with a machine in it.
She had me lay down on my back and then she marked the radiation spots.
The doctor came in and placed tape where they wanted to focus on. Then she left the room.
The lady had me hold my arms up above my head and hold onto a bar. I was on a soft formed pillow.
The machine whirled above me and I kept thinking it was like a MRI only not as noisy.
When that was over she said, “now you get your tatoo’s.”
I wouldn’t want one on a normal day and definitely not on a radiation day.
She gave me three pokes that hurt and I was totally not thrilled.
I imagine it has to do with the placement of the radiation sites.
We left there and went home.
Wednesday the 5th I had to go back to the hospital for a bone scan.
That was another whirling machine only I did not have to get in a robe and it was very fast.
After that appointment we had to go to a dermatology appointment for my husband.
He had some basal cell tissue removed on his arm and they were evaluating the next phase for him.
His next biopsy will be after my radiation is over.
The rest of this week I have been relaxing since I know the next month is going to be very hard.
My husband went to the beach yesterday and worked with the guys and today he is at a sportsman show.
He needs down time too.
Continuing this journey of healing I will try to document it all so I won’t forget the details.
The pathology report plus some other news has been the agenda for the last week or so.
According to what I was told the pathology report was very good and all the margins around the surgery site, were clear. This is very good news and it basically means the cancer was removed when I had the biopsy.
Now I still have things I must do in order to finish this process.
I met with the oncologist and we talked about a medication I will be taking but first I have to have a bone scan.
It is important to find out if I have weakened bones or not before this medication gets in my system.
I also will be starting radiation in a week or two.
I have to go in for the initial radiation markings then the following week it will be every day, five days a week for four weeks.
I’m nervous about the radiation process.
It is going to be hard on my sensitive skin but I will do it because I need to and at least I don’t have to have chemo.
I now have a surgeon, an oncologist, a general care doctor and a radiology doctor.
This whole process has been quite the journey.
This new year has brought a lot of changes with thought provoking details.
I am considered a cancer patient even though the cancer was removed.
God will give me the strength, the endurance and the prayers to get through this and I will come out stronger.
May I learn to be a light to those around me and also be encouraging through this process.
Doctors are just doing what they are trained to do and I have no complaints about any of them.
In fact I sing high praises for the anesthesiologist who did my surgery, I woke up with no nausea.
That was my biggest fear and it was handled very well.
The pathology report was a good one and I am thankful that this journey is a prayer filled one.
I don’t know what I would do if I had no faith to rely on.
While waiting for the pathology report I found myself in the middle of calm and anxiety.
Both were true. I was trusting in the process.
Trusting in the surgeon and praying for a direction to lean into.
About eight days after my surgery the nurse called and told me that I had great news.
The surgeon felt the cancer was fully removed during the biopsy process.
The margins around my surgery site were clean. The pathology report clean.
I had no further need for more surgery and no chemo.
I would be continuing the plan for radiation just to be sure the cells are gone.
I guess this is preventative and I will also see a oncologist for some medication advise.
This is all good news.
Did that mean I was cancer free?
What a circle of feelings to go from a positive reading to now a clean margin, in just a few weeks.
I am amazed, thankful and praise God for so much prayers and for this experience.
Yes, it’s been a new adventure. One that I could never have imagined.
Any time you do a medical process so much is layered into the experience.
Concerns, worries, fatigue and fear.
I will forever be a cancer survivor and I say that with a knowing; that I was given this so I can share with others.
My experience is not like others. Some who I know have had double mastectomies. Some have had reconstruction.
It is a very individual and unique experience for each patient.
I cannot say I am totally done with this process. Not for five years. That is the plan.
But in five years I will be seventy years old and the life that is given to me will be full of praise and thanksgiving.
Throughout my life I have survived many things, and this is one more for the book.
While waiting for the pathology report, I learned to lean in and trust deeper.