Week one of radiation is officially behind us: 5 days of masks, mouth pieces, gowns, beams, and white sheets covering hard plastic tables. 5 days of walking down the hall in a hospital gown (neked from the waist up) with my co-workers staring a little but mostly just carrying on with business as usual. And 5 days closer to the day when all of this will be behind us. Finally.
This week has been unexpectedly normal. I’ve stayed in bed until I absolutely had to get up for work, I’ve worked full time, danced, led our marriage small group alongside my husband, and entertained friends and family in our home. The only real difference has been that every morning around 9am, the treatment desk calls my office and squeezes me in between other patients. 15ish minutes later, I’m back in my desk working. It couldn’t actually be a better setup. No real disruption to daily life is what I wanted and that is exactly what I’ve gotten…so far.
Tuesday night as K.T. asked me how my heart was, as he often does. And of course I told him I was fine (because I am), but he kept asking about things and I kept talking and the more I talked, the more I listened to myself, and the more I realized that this is actually quite an emotional journey. All I had been focused on was the physical part and the waiting. The waiting for the side-effects to pound me and leave me exhausted, in pain, and miserable. The waiting on the days that I wouldn’t feel like doing anything and the days where I had to sleep on the other side of my head because my regular side was too raw to lay on. I never once considered that starting treatment would tug at my heart too. But waiting on the physical has does some unexpected things to the softer parts of me.
Through this first week, I’ve felt awkward. I’ve felt mortified. I’ve felt exposed. I’ve felt poked and prodded at, and I’ve most of all felt like October 20th was further away than Christmas from December 26th. On the other hand, I’ve felt taken care of. I’ve felt renewed. I’ve felt safe. I’ve felt loved, and I’ve felt even more cancer-free than I already was knowing each treatment was destroying any (if any) cancer cells that were left hanging out in my body.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little terrified about how the next 5 weeks are going to go. Week one definitely wasn’t bad, but I cant help but feel like I have such a long way to go. I haven’t really had any side effects yet (other than my mouth being a little drier) and there’s nothing that says I will have side-effects. There are definitely folks that sail right through this with nothing other than a little bit of thick saliva. And even that can be lessened with guzzling water constantly and rinsing your mouth with some concoction of salt, soda, and water. But the fear still creeps in sometimes, and looking at the calendar is quite daunting lately.
But aside from the fear, I couldn’t be more thankful for where I am. I wouldn’t take a minute of all of this back. I wouldn’t trade any of the letdowns, the disappointments, the tears, or anything else that has come with this journey (and even the steps before that obviously led me here). Has it been fun? Nope. Not even a little, but it’s continued to make me better, stronger, braver, and healthier. It’s shown me the most special sides of my family and friends, and it’s shown me the undeniable strength, selflessness, and unconditional love of the precious man I married just 2.5 years ago.
I’m going to unapologetically beg you all again to continue to pray for us over the next 5 weeks specifically, and beyond if you’re willing. I promise to stand alongside you in believing this journey is perfect and that the Lord has wonderful things planned ahead of us. And I promise to stay strong and be brave as I navigate these new waters of being a patient as well as an employee in the same space. It’s weird. And I promise to keep my chin up and hold my head high in thanks that the Lord (and so many people) have saved my life.
Here’s to week 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6!