One aspect of breast cancer I had no experience with until now was radiation therapy. My protocol began on January 25th and would be 30 treatments, Monday through Friday, with weekends off.
Unfortunately, I was forced to take a two-week respite after treatment #25. I had begun suffering third degree burns as a result of this aggressive therapy that was targeting the wide swath from my spine to my throat, my chest to my back, and up and over my shoulder, all areas that had been affected at the time of my relapse a little more than ten months ago.
I resumed treatment last week, once I had healed enough to get back in the “radiation saddle!”
This past Monday was to have been my 30th treatment, my final treatment. I even splurged on a pair of super-saucy Steve Madden sandals to wear for this special occasion…that is until my “healing team captain” called me on Sunday to tell me not to break out the champagne...just yet.
She wanted to add four more treatments.
I can do this. Hey, I have friends who are suffering far more than I am right now and I imagine that each time I pick up my cross with a smile on my face, I am somehow helping them carry theirs, as well. I know that when people tell me they are praying for me, when they call to let me know that they are thinking of me, I feel it. And so I set my intention each day to do the same for my kindred brethren and “bra-thren.”
So when I arrived at the cancer center in my yoga clothes (and shoes) this morning for my regular 8:30am treatment, it was business as usual. Until I hopped off the table and met with my doctor, who surprised me with the news that I had just had my last radiation treatment – sans Steve Madden!
I am blessed to have a “healing team” that treats their patients one day at a time. I was examined every single day, my x-rays and scans were painstakingly scrutinized, and they took great care to treat me, yet not over-treat me. And it was decided that today, March 21, 2012 was the day – that 32 treatments were enough.
My friends, lovely sisters Lucia and Giovanna, joined me in the lobby at the cancer center so I could ring the bell three times, signifying an end to treatment, and cause for celebration among patients, staff and volunteers. It is a lovely, lovely tradition.
And then I did what I have done for all of these weeks – I walked on the beach and sat on a rocky breakwater, breathing in the warm, foggy air and praying and meditating on the health of all of those that need healing.
I picked up a trio of attached shells and brought it home, where I plunked it in a jar along with 31 other beach treasures I had gathered, one on each day of my treatment. This will serve as a reminder of the peace I found on the beach each day during this “intense & meaningful” time.
And then I put on my headset and finished yet another Rosetta Stone French 1 lesson. Oui! I said I would do it, and I did…I am fit, French, and decidedly fried!
So, what’s next for me? I’ve set my sights on the 2013 Marathon de Paris! Restez à l’écoute (stay tuned)…
PS… At the risk of being silly, I must share the following…although it was my 32nd treatment, today is the 21st – my lucky number, and coincidentally, the same number of chemotherapy treatments I just completed. Not silly enough for you? How about this…when I was pulling out of the cancer center this morning, I flipped on the radio and my #1-favorite-theme-song-of-my-life came on as if it was waiting for me to leave. What song would that be? ”Born To Run” by Bruce Springsteen, of course!