Friday, June 26, 2009

School's Out!

25 June 2009

My desk, dark sea to the left of me, sleeping Sarah to the right

Tomorrow is my last day of Radiation and Chemotherapy. I’ve been feeling a rising sense of excitement since Monday. On the one hand I’m expecting all the side effects to get worse and worse and on the other hand I’m too excited to either feel it or notice them.

It also happens to be the end of the school term, school holidays start tomorrow. How perfect. I'm on holiday and so are my kids!

Yesterday as I lay on the treatment bed waiting for the Radiation to start I thought to myself, “I wonder if I’ll ever do this again?” I then decided “no” and savoured every moment of it as if it was my last time ever to get ‘radiated’ . I did the same today and tomorrow I’m going to eat up every second of it.

When I look back at the weeks before I began this treatment I remember how conflicted I was. I had come across the criticisms of Radiation and Chemo and was considering not going through with it. It was a very difficult crossroads for me. I could appreciate and understand why people saw Radiation and Chemotherapy as poison and harmful and not geared in any way towards healing. In fact the one description that resonated with me was the idea that surgery, radiation and chemo did not heal the body from the cancer, it merely treated the tumour. Again the idea that allopathic medicine is myopic in it’s focus on the symptom and not the cause. So what led me to go through with it?

I remember going to the hospital to have my mask fitted a week before the treatment was to commence and meeting the Radiology Team who were going to treat me. They were and are an incredible group of people. All women as it turns out. When we drove away after the mask fitting it was suddenly a non-issue for me. I would do the radiation and chemo. It just felt like the right place to be and it has been.

My dear friend Daron came along one day and shot a whole sequence of photos of the radiation process. You can view them on my flickr photo-stream.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Betwixt and Between

22 June 09

my desk, still dark outside but I can hear the waves

Last night was the longest night of the year. From today the sun claws it’s way back into the sky. Here begins the last week of my radiation and chemotherapy. Week six of six. I’m feeling a mixed bag today and have for the last week or so. What next?

I’ve noticed in myself that knowing what is going to happen next is more comforting that what that ‘next’ actually is.

My treatment from an oncological point of view has only just begun. After this week’s treatment I have a three week ‘holiday’ to give my body time to recover from the side-effects of the radiation and chemotherapy. After the holiday I am scheduled to start a six month chemotherapy regimen which will be five days of high dose (oral) chemo for one week every week. Sounds do-able.

While everybody has a picture of ‘chemo’ my journey has not been that. I had some nausea in the beginning and days here and there that were tough. But all in all it’s been very do-able. The side effects of the radiation have slowly been accumulating and are now very noticeable both to others and in the way I feel. My hair has begun to fall out and I have a radiation burn on the side of my face, plus my right ear is taking strain. It feels blocked most of the time due to excessive oils which are being generated in reaction to the heat and irritation from the radiation.

I was warned that there could be some ‘short term’ memory loss.

What was I going to say again?

I noticed it at first last weekend at Kath’s wedding. I gave somebody a camera to hang onto for a few minutes while I did something else. When I returned half an hour later I had no idea who I’d given it to. I knew I’d given the camera to somebody but that’s as far as I could go. As much as I searched my records I couldn’t switch on the light, it was like the library was dark and I had no idea where the shelf was. The next morning while I was meditating the lost memory fell out of my head. So it was there all along! Strange, but stranger things have happened.

The biggest side effect of the radiation is that it’s shifted my energy radically. Unless I’m with people I feel very cut-off and dislocated. On the one hand I feel like I should be out there engaging and on the other hand I don’t feel like doing anything. Betwixt and between.

As hard as it was in the beginning to reconcile myself with the radiation and chemotherapy I now find myself at a cross-roads again. Where to from here? The variety of treatments and different paths to healing are still arrayed before me, like a fan of possibilities, radiating outwards.

I’ve booked myself into the St Francis Health Hydro for a week in July to give myself a chance to recover what needs recovering from the radition/chemo and also to get clear on what’s next.