Inhale

Tomorrow is it. Tomorrow, I’ll be done with radiation therapy.

I’ve undergone 8 months of non-stop treatments/surgeries/procedures/tests/therapy and it’ll FINALLY be over. In this space of time, my life has completely changed. Not only have I lost my breasts and hair, but I’ve gained a body full of scars and burns that I can’t remember what it used to look like.

I honestly don’t know what I’ll do next week when I don’t have to drive to the Cancer Center. I’m used to scheduling everything around my daily radiation appointments.

I’m finding my transition back into life isn’t as seamless or as easy as I thought it would be. I’d been forced into giving up the reigns on so many tasks that I’m struggling with picking up where I left off. All of the decisions I didn’t have the energy to make and all of the things I was unable to do I’d left for my husband. He has been my lifesaver on many occasions, but I almost feel as though I don’t fit in anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I do fit and Brad has been very patient in all of this, including my transition back, but it’s still not easy. He has had to see me so incredibly broken and also parent in the same day. When we weren’t sure how all of this was going to go, he was the one who continually picked me up. He planned with me, listened to me, took notes at my appointments and helped me be ok with whatever was to come. Now, we get to take a giant breath and live.

So, tomorrow, it’s finally time. Tomorrow we will have done it.

Together.

Now What?

It’s not often that I cry in public. And if I do, it’s usually for happy reasons for sentimental reasons or because I am feeling extra emotional. Today was different.

Let me start by saying that yesterday, when I went to radiation, I was told that the machine was not working and I wouldn’t be receiving treatment that day. I was a little sad as that meant that I would have to extend my treatment from Friday, February 23 to Monday, February 26. It’s really not that big of a deal, but I’ve been in treatments for weeks, and before that I had surgery. Before that I had months of chemotherapy. I’ve been looking forward to February 23rd for a very long time.

This delay also means that my side effects of radiation will be extended that much longer. Again, it might not seem like much, but when you are developing blisters and burns, the only relief is to be done with treatment.

I got a phone call early this afternoon that the machine was down again. I was upset again for all of the same reasons I’ve already mentioned. But then, I got an awesome phone call from the cancer center asking me if I can still make it in for my appointment this afternoon. Of course! I don’t want to delay completing my treatment another minute.

After waiting for about 20 minutes, I saw two people come toward me in the waiting room. One of them was one of my radiation technicians, The other with someone I have never met. He wasn’t wearing scrubs and he had a very grim look on his face. The two men kindly explained that the engineer thought the machine was up and running again when in fact, there were still some issues. They further explained that it will likely be completely fixed by tomorrow, but that I would not be receiving treatment today.

I completely lost my shit. I. Was. Bawling.

They apologized and felt bad but I couldn’t hear them through my anger and tears. I don’t want apologies. I don’t want sympathy. I don’t want explanations or excuses. I don’t want anything. I just want to be done on February 23.

Wonder

If you haven’t seen the move Wonder or read the book, it’s a good one.

We watching it as a family (all FIVE of us) last weekend ❤️. My kiddos had already watched it with Aunt Chris while I was in the hospital, but they wanted to see it again.

Let me tell you something. The little boy, Auggie, described exactly how I feel lately about the way that I look. Obviously I don’t have a facial deformation and I’m not comparing how indescribable it would be to endure a childhood with such deformities, but his words resonated loudly. There is something about this state of vulnerability that I haven’t been able to overcome. I still get stares and double glances that I am assuming is related to my hair. The glances inevitably move to where my breasts were where I assume adults make likely thoughts as to my diagnosis. The other day a kiddo asked my why I shaved my head. I tried to easily explain, but it was really for my own benefit. I gave up after awhile.

This is hard. It’s really hard. Every once in a while, the depression seeps in and really tries to take over. I’ve got two weeks left of radiation and I’m really dreading the everyday appointments. I know it’ll pass by quickly, and for that I’m grateful.

The scarring on my chest has become quite painful. The radiation makes everything very tight and my range of motion is limited. I do stretches and exercises all. The. Time. I don’t know if it’s the counter effects of radiation that make me feel like I’m not making progress, but I don’t.

This week my skin started to turn quite leathery and it’s become likely that I’ll see blistering soon. It’ll be short lived….

Winter, be GONE!

Another Monday

Monday is doctor day. It’s not too big of a deal except that I have to wait to have therapy, then wait to see the doctor after. He makes sure the side effects are all manageable and that my skin is holding up ok. So far, the biggest issue I’ve had is fatigue.

My eyelashes are nearly completely grown in! They are difficult to photograph, but it feels nice to have something to put mascara on. Looking in the mirror doesn’t feel quite so terrible anymore.

Radiation therapy is so bizarre. The room is frigid. I’m, of course, half-nekked in this huge room with all of the things. The two women set me up on my body mold on a platform/bed and swiftly make their adjustments. I’m not allowed to move during the process while they set everything up. This is when they step away from the machine behind the wall and I hear the machine start up. The sound is very similar to an airplane engine starting. Then, over a period of about five minutes, my body is slowly fed into a giant tube. Usually I make measurements with my eyes on the ceiling tiles and try to remember how much of it will disappear before I’m done. When that’s all done, I’m ejected from the machine and have to wait for my radiologist to view those scans And give me permission to move forward with therapy for today. This whole time, I am not allowed to move. This is when ALL of the things happen. I have to sneeze, cough, twitch, burp, take a deep breath or itch that one spot that is surely on fire for the amount of itch that it actually has. But, I. Can’t. Move. Instead I listen to all of the familiar clicks and motions that I can hear the machine making and again watch the tiles on the ceiling and attempt to measure how much longer I’ll be stuck without being able to sneeze, cough, twitch, burp, take a deep breath or itch that one spot thats surely on fire. Every day. Like Groundhogs Day.

Anywhere But Here

I wonder how many hours I’ve spent waiting in this waiting room anticipating my appointment as those around me file in and out of their own appointments and work stations. Today I’ve already been here for an hour with zero patience as I list off the things I need to get done at home. I can’t remember the last time I scrubbed the tub or had the entire house clean. Brad has taken on so many duties that I’ve previously handled. When was the last time I was at my children’s school for drop off? Have I cleaned my car lately? Do I have enough gas to get home tonight? Did the cat run away? How about the kids?! When did I last bake cookies? Too late for that anyway as it’s GIRL SCOUT COOKIE SEASON STARTING TOMORROW and I have my VERY OWN Girl Scout (cough, cough…. contact me for orders 😁)!

Holy shit. Life is hard right now. I thought this part would be easy. By all means, it is definitely easier, but now I’m just a girl with no breasts, barely any hair AND a couple of pounds to lose. I can’t tell if the lethargy from radiation is kicking in or if it’s the exhaustion of daily life.

I could totally go for a nap today.

Maybe tomorrow.