I have a new job! Ok, not really, but it sure feels like a job, getting up and over to the hospital daily to get treatments. So, I am counting down the radiation treatment days. Week one done or 6 treatments done! Only 24 more or basically 5 more weeks of radiation. For me, the most intimidating part is the confidence that the technicians, that look like youngsters using a geometry set, accurately align and adjust me. Plus those robotic machines spinning around you can be intimidating! Imagine if they accidentally aim the radiation beams at the wrong places?! One centimeter one way or another could mean some damage like lung damage or who knows what. I admit I have trust and anxiety issues! I wonder how often mistakes are made because no one is perfect and we know mistakes must happen. I figure they try and minimize the risks because they take about 15 minutes or longer to align me in the right position and the technicians have to call out “I agree” to each other once I am aligned. I noticed sometimes when there are 3 technicians, one is a trainee. The good news is that trainees are careful and will make sure their work is double and triple checked. Having an extra set of eyes confirming measurements is a good thing! Once aligned, I am in for about 10 or 15 minutes of zapping. I have to lay still with my hands over my head and generally entertain myself by seeing if I can count the number of zaps or humming sounds I hear. Funny as soon as you are told to remain still, your nose starts to itch and/or your wig hair is suddenly in your eyes. I wonder what would happen if you need to sneeze. That said, there are cameras to allow the technicians to watch you at all times. So hopefully if you make any sudden movements, they will notice and hold or stop any radiation beams coming your way.
Sometimes I count 15 or 16 zaps and other times I lose track. Some of the zaps last at least 15 secs or longer while others are about 5 secs. I envision the ones that go on for 15 secs burning a hole through to my back. I wonder how they measure the depth of destruction? If I remember, I will have to ask the technicians and see if the longer the zap the deeper the burn…. It is fascinating how radiation works to kill cancer.
In terms of pain, there generally isn’t any during treatment. I am, however, a little more sensitive in the underarm and boob area. Although I don’t think it’s from the radiation alone, I am finding that my stamina is weakening and generally I feel I need a rest by mid afternoon. It could be my age…I just celebrated my birthday. LOL. If I don’t rest, I can get fairly cranky… Mike generally can’t tell if I am tired or not because he would say I am always cranky.. LOL.
Speaking of a new job.. Once you get a “critical illness” it makes you stop and evaluate what you want to be doing with the rest of your precious time. I am looking at life B.C. versus life A.C. obviously before cancer, and after cancer. Basically I am trying to re-evaluate and look at priorities.
Many people survive cancer which I expect to do but there is that little voice in your head reminding you that cancer can be life-shortening. This in itself doesn’t bother me but what is bothersome is knowing whether I can make the most of the time left. Cancer certainly gives you reason enough to re-think career, friends, family, travel and other activities. I am not glad I got cancer but I have to say on the plus side, it has helped me to relax, slow down a bit, re-focus and continue to think about what I want to do with the time I have. I always said we were put on this earth for a reason. I hope to find more meaningful things to do.
I am struggling to figure out what or how to change my life but we probably all struggle with this at times. I know I am still in treatment but it is heavily weighing on my mind. I try to remind myself that it doesn’t mean I need to make drastic changes. I think minor tweaks could make me happy. For example, instead of work-work-work, I just need to find a better balance. Everyone’s time is limited, so before you get a critical illness, you may want to re-evaluate and figure out what would make you happy and fulfilled.
Figuring this out may take some time and if you are healthy, you can take a little more time. Maybe try some new things because I am thinking this may be something I may do. I know I am planning to join some courses offered at the hospital and at other places that talk about ‘picking up the pieces.”
Right now my full time job is to remain focused on completing active cancer treatment. In addition to my usual radiation treatments, I am off to the cardiologist next week for some tests. I am also looking forward to the next cancer support group meeting as it is truly enlightening to hear other people’s stories.
Stay Crazy! Take a pause and evaluate your life as necessary! Smell the roses! Notice the sunsets!