Before radiation began, my port was unceremoniously removed.  It’s the strangest sensation, to have minor surgery while still awake.  I know I felt disconnected, as if I were outside of myself but unable to watch.  It seems like they had just begun working when someone said, “almost done.  Just closing you up”.  The procedure marked the end of the worst phase of my treatment, and the only evidence left was a small scar that even now is fading fast.

They gave me my port in a small plastic container, but I ended up tossing it.

Driving to Radiation

I was optimistic, so sure, that radiation would be no big deal.  And for the most part, it was.  It was anticlimactic, even.  I looked at it as a way to motivate me to get up and do stuff.  The whole process, from backing out of the driveway to turning back into it, took forty minutes on a bad day.  The fear of the process was the hardest thing to get over, and when I’d been going for a couple of weeks, I decided that I was a big crybaby.

Toward the end of treatment, though, it started to hurt.

At first, it stung in a mildly irritating way, like right after a long beach trip.  Then I noticed the blisters.  Then I woke up one day, and the whole thing looked like a Stephen King story.  It oozed and was a shade of red that should be illegal, all in a perfectly defined square.  It was beyond nasty, and now I know that Ryan is some kind of demigod sent from heaven, because he bandaged me and helped me keep it clean and didn’t ever complain.

It looks fine now.  It healed very quickly.  When I visited Dr. Nguyen when it was its nastiest, he told me that it actually looked good, comparatively speaking.  I felt grateful that he didn’t think it looked bad, and realized that I was probably lucky.  I know that I tend to have amnesia about my body and illnesses and injury, but I think radiation might have been more difficult than my mastectomy.

Radiation Waiting Room

I met some great people in the radiation clinic.  On the first day, in the waiting room, was a man with an autoharp.  He was playing it and singing.  I watched him, and thought about taking his picture, but decided it would be rude.  I didn’t get to find out if he was a patient or family member because I was summoned into the office.

The next day, I saw him again, leaving the office, with his arm around a lady, who was carrying a rose and a certificate.  It was her last day.  The image of them, walking arm and arm, into a new beginning, made me tear up a little.

6 thoughts on “maroon

  1. It is all about a “New Beginning.” The journey is scary, confusing, ugly and hard. We get hit in the stomach with the news that we have cancer. It literally knocks the wind out of us. We fight the battle, not only with our body, but with our heart and mind as well. We can’t ever go back to the person we were before cancer. Although our bodies have gone through changes and some warriors may even look a bit different, battered or torn, it is through that battle that we, the person, is changed… and made new.
    After you get your clean bill of health (and you will), you can climb to the top of Diamond Head and yell from the top “Son of a Bitch, I beat it!!” And (in a big way) celebrate your victory with your very supportive family and friends. You deserve it! Mark the end of that chapter of your journey with fanfare, food, cake, wine, balloons, etc., and welcome your new beginning.
    Embrace the new you with love and go on to live your life in love and light.
    Love you!

  2. It’s really good to see you back here again, Jen. You are a very brave woman, full of courage, and you faced this battle with so much courage! I really admire you for sharing your story with us; and am so grateful that Ryan has been right there with you. Imua!

  3. Aloha nui iā ʻoe! He pule ia e holoi ana i ka pōʻino, a me ka pale aʻe i pau ka haumia. E kō, e kō, e ke kia. Pau e Lono e, ua ola e! ʻĀmama, ua noa.

    [Much aloha to you, Here is a prayer to cleanse misfortune and guard against defilements. Extend, extend, the prayer. End it e Lono, Healed! Completed, set free.]

  4. Been wondering how you’ve been healing. Afraid to ask sometimes, I know it’s a hard journey. I hope it;s been better than it could have been. I think if someone comes across this blog as they begin their journey it will lift them up with hope and enlightenment. You are blessed to share with others.

    And I wholeheartedly agree with Karen, celebrate the end of treatment and your new birthday!
    May God continue to hold you and yours in his arms!

  5. Until I read your description of the radiation burn, I was naively thinking that everyone went through it with no side effects at all. Now I realize that my dosage must have been very low, comparatively speaking. I had two different rounds on two different areas. Not even a little pink. So now I know how lucky I have been. And you’re right, the people at the clinic are simply wonderful including Dr. Nguyen. It’s a very small world here in Honolulu…I think I saw the man with the autoharp at Kaiser Moanalua, outside the oncology clinic. Onwards, Jen! And definitely, celebrate the end of the treatment!

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