It was easy to get into the routine of traveling the five miles to the oncology center for radiation. Every morning, shower, no deodorant, (I took to carrying it in my purse) or powder as it messes with the machine. Normally no breakfast; just coffee for the short ride. I was almost always the first, but saw many different women regularly. Each of these in their own personal hell.
Top off, stupid gown tied at the side, weighed, physically examined and then into the room. They had taken a picture of me and verified me every time by checking me against the picture to make sure they were radiating the right person. Wow, that’s a problem? There would be my “mold” that held my left arm up over my head and a few minutes later I was dressing and ready to leave. It was really creepy, though, as I have said. The staff although gracious was quick to exit the room and lock that lead door. For some reason radiation scared me more than chemo. All the horror stories of radiation sickness flooded my thoughts; everything flooded my thoughts! I was alone a lot and had plenty of time to think. Too much time, I believe.
There were side effects and they came after about a week. I was always very tired but that could have been anything from stress to lingering chemo side effects. I began to burn in the area of radiation, like a sunburn, but it became severe and painful. The skin was very red and tender. I didn’t wear a bra for a long time. I expected nausea, fatigue and emotionalism but really only the fatigue and redness. Severe on both counts.
The emotionalism was already there with now having endured over six months of various surgeries, treatments, and doctor visits. I was (and continue to be) scared all the time. Lonely and worried that this would never be over or wondering what else I may have to endure. Knowing that I still have a few weeks to go through I tried to remain positive (I faked it!) and as busy as my energy would allow.
Although I had issues with some chemo effects, I was stronger and able to do more, go more places, and essentially take care of myself. I had moments and one friend saved me from them by visiting at the drop of a hat request. I will always be thankful for that. But this is a journey that I had taken and that was nearing the end.
I had hope that I was cured, I had hope that I could return to work soon, I had hope that I would feel like a woman again.
I had hope that people would soon begin to see me again and quit looking at my cancer.