The final week of treatment is finally over, and I cant even begin to count how many times I thought it would never get here. Reading back through some of the posts, I already don’t remember some of the smaller details of things that happened, but what I do remember is the fight in me and the daily strength only Jesus could have given me to get through some of the best and worst days of my life.
This last week, I made sure to write a small snippet every single day so I wouldn’t forget the intricacies of the final week of this mess. I didn’t want to forget my feelings and emotions as I neared the end and the new routine that I had grown accustomed to was almost over.
The last Monday…and a rather terrible Monday. I woke up with everything hurting: my skin feeling raw, exposed, and nearing temperatures that a fireproof building couldn’t even withstand, my tongue peppered with ulcers down the treatment side that sent me into seizing pain every time my tongue moved the slightest bit, and my ear STILL stopped up due to a very narrow and raw ear canal although the infection had cleared.
I worked from home in the morning hours, ate my oatmeal, showered, and slowly got ready to head up for treatment and a few hours in the office. I kind of just wanted to curl up in the fetal position most of that time, but I pushed through with a (necessary) swift kick in the rear from some of my work folks and finally made it to my car to head home.
And then the phone rings….and it’s the genetics department with my test results from my testing well before radiation even started. Genetic testing results came back….positive. So that means I’m a carrier for the ATM mutation. Each and every set of DNA in my body has that mutation which puts me at a higher risk for other cancers to develop later down the road like breast and pancreatic. I managed to have a somewhat intelligent conversation with the nice girl that called me and she helped answer some of the basic questions I had like how much of a higher risk does this put me at? What does this mean for our children? When will extra testing begin?
Basically, this news isn’t terrible. It’s news we somewhat expected but it really only puts us on a higher alert just in case, God forbid, anything were to ever come up again. The ATM mutation puts me at a 30% higher risk for breast cancer and suggested screening is 10 years before any family diagnosis unless that age is over 40. Since Mom was 63 when she was diagnosed, mine will just start at 40. So we’ve chosen to actually count this as a blessing since I will have extra scans to make sure we stay on top of my health forever and ever. Wont lie and tell you I didn’t have a serious meltdown over all of this with it being my last week and with emotions running high anyways.
I fared much better on Tuesday although my tongue still felt like it made friends with a chainsaw over the weekend and my neck still felt like it was ablaze. I got some new cream for my face with lidocaine already mixed in to try, and I had lots of energy to bounce around the office for a few hours after treatment and get some actual work done. I finally made it home around 5:30 and celebrated my good day with a can of tomato soup for my first dinner and some high-protein spaghetti noodles for dinner #2. Tuesday was far less dramatic and more like I was hoping the last week would feel.
Another good day for the most part. My neck was definitely raw and getting more painful as the hours passed although it was still pretty manageable with a Tylenol here and there and a LOT of cream. I’ve noticed that other parts of my skin in the treatment has started to heal already and is looking less red (which isn’t saying much considering how red it had been) and since this week is treating a smaller portion as a boost (mostly around the previous tumor site). Even if it’s microscopic, I’m counting anything and everything as progress.
Thursday was pretty solid. There was a lot of anticipation I could feel building as the last day approached, but I had a really good afternoon at work, shared a bag of popcorn with a co-worker, and came home to a 2 egg dinner and a night of small group in our home with the sweetest 8 couples we ever could have prayed for. There was a moment when I didn’t know if hosting a small group at our home through all of this would be a good idea or not, but it has blessed me more than I could have ever imagined. Thank the Lord we pushed through and K.T. leads our family so well. Even though we were tired, K.T. and I made some time before bed to talk and reflect on some of the things we’ve been through over the last six weeks and 3.5 months as a whole.
The day I had been waiting for for 6 very long weeks. 40 extra long days. To make it to a lifetime of healing. And I woke up with one thing on my mind…making it through the day. And I made it…here’s how it went.