“WOOHOO! You’re finished!” my radiologist whooped this morning, bounding in from behind the thick, radiation-proof concrete doors to untape my chest, and lower the bench I lay on.
She is a bubbly young woman, and has really made the last seven weeks of daily radiation sessions more bearable with her friendly conversation. As I sat up, and reached for my hospital gown, she continued chatting happily about how good it must feel to be finished.
“Think of all the free time you’ll have now!” she gleamed.
I nodded, and smiled.
“Yes, it’s great.”
A minute later I found myself sitting in my small change-room cubicle, staring at my burnt, blistered chest, shaking with silent tears. (God I’ve cried A LOT this year!)
Were they happy tears? I didn’t know. Probably in part, although it feels premature to celebrate, when once again I am left nursing the damage of more brutal cancer treatment; the whole right side of my chest and armpit are red raw, and weeping.
A couple of weeks ago my oncologist joked that my skin looked ‘medium rare’, but today the nurses just grimaced as they dressed it with burn gel and cling-film.
I wonder if it’ll at least fade to a nice, albeit lopsided ‘tan’?
* * * * *
It does feel good to be finished radiotherapy. It is, after all, another treatment phase I can tick off my list.
But tomorrow I start ten years of hormone therapy that will put me into permanent menopause at the tender age of 38, and next week I’m back in hospital for more appointments with my oncologists, plus more tri-weekly infusions of Herceptin and Perjeta…so forgive me for not popping celebratory streamers.
ARGH…I KNOW, I KNOW…
SELF PITY ALERT!
I’m just so sick of it all. Actually I think I’m just exhausted. Tired of what feels never-ending to me. It’s nearly September…I’ve been in treatment now for nine months. Just think of all the stuff you’ve done in the last nine months!
I can’t help but think about all the things I’ve missed out on this year. My ‘year of big things’ that never came to fruition is barely even perceptible now, let alone my normal old life. It’s been swallowed up by a black hole of hospital visits, treatment schedules and side effects. Precious time lost forever.
It’s difficult to convey exactly how I feel without making everyone feel like busting out the violins, but it’s kind of like I’m living a half-life. I’m living, but my mind has lost the trusty autopilot it’s had for 37 years, so navigating each day feels awkward and foreign. Things that were once normal, now no longer are. In fact, there is almost nothing about this life that feels ‘normal’ to me anymore.
There has been a huge shift in the way my mind works, the way I think things through, and go about my day. Once Cancer enters your life, ‘normal’ is altered forever. The normal old Kate that would have once gone about her normal old day freely, now overthinks everything.
There’s the added pressure to enjoy everything more, because I have cancer. There’s the pressure of making the most of every situation, because I have cancer. There’s the stress of not sweating the small things, focusing on what’s important, being mindful, present and grateful for every day. And there’s the sick idiot in pessimistic region of my brain saying, “This might be your last chance.”
It’s totally exhausting. I need someone to come along and pull the plug on my overthinking brain! Switch that normal autopilot back on so I can chillax a little, and just be normal old me.