wide-eyed at 4am

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Some of the People You Meet …

Being diagnosed with breast cancer in May of 2015 at the age of 55, Continue reading


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Waiting Room Stories

The radiation waiting room is quite the different experience than the chemo waiting room was…

First of all, it’s just us girls in the radiation version. We’ve already made our way back into the radiation suite and changed into our lovely CMC wardrobes.

Since chemo doesn’t require any clothing removal, you’re never separated from whomever has accompanied you. Maybe that is what keeps it more subdued.

Because I will simply say “Wow!” is the chemo situation more subdued!

Perhaps it’s that most of us (in my group of co-treatment recipients) have already been through chemo, are comparing hair growth, treatment timelines and side effect stories. We’ve not yet compared scars but I have had one lady show me her “treatment” area to get my opinion of whether a particular area was a blister or not. I didn’t expect this, but I really wasn’t surprised it happened. We’re pretty candid.

Because we talk pretty openly, some in the group forget that there may be those who are more paranoid than others about our treatments and about the recommendations that our doctors have made.

Just the other day, one member of the group began sharing a story of a young woman that she knew who had undergone radiation a few years ago. She noted that she had a condition now that would stay with her for the rest of her life because she had been over-radiated.

Now – who in the heck tells “over radiation” stories in the radiation suite waiting room? And it just so happened that one of the more “nervous” members of the group was present and all ears. Her eyes got wide and I’m sure she asked the treatment team a million questions about dosage and frequency as soon as she was escorted back to the treatment area.

Then there was the conversation that I really appreciated hearing…

A young woman came in with her mom. Mom was in a wheelchair and had leg and arm injured on her left side. Her hair was very sparse, so I knew that she had recently completed chemo.

Mom was very cheerful – despite her condition – and we struck up a conversation. I learned that she had fallen down her steps and had to have an emergency hip replacement on Easter Sunday. She was supposed to start radiation the Monday following but had to delay since she was still hospitalized from the hip surgery. She had also broken her arm. Luckily she didn’t injure her head – which is her treatment area for radiation.

After she went with the radiation technician, her daughter continued to share her Mom’s history and their journey with cancer.

Mom had breast cancer several years ago, followed by liver cancer. After a few years, doctors found cancer had moved to her brain. And that’s what she’s battling now.

Mom had quipped just before moving in for her treatment that just when I thought nothing else could happen to me … She waved her right hand up and down her left side and rolled her eyes. She has a great attitude.

Her daughter continued to share. She has a sister who lives out of town so she handles most of Mom’s care. She paused and looked at me with watery eyes and said “Now my Dad has had to undergo tests to see if he has lung cancer. He finds out this week.

I was called back for my treatment, but before I left, I paused to ask her Mom’s name. It’s Carolyn. I told that my name is Jill and that I would pray for her Mom, her Dad, her sister and for her.

I didn’t get to see her expression because she looked down and nodded. I’ve named them in my prayers ever since.

Sometimes I’m very thankful for the moments when I have good reason to put my situation in perspective. I don’t make light of mine. But I also don’t have the burden to bear that this family does.

I haven’t had a problem with maintaining my positivity – but if ever I do – I’ll simply say the name Carolyn.



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One Third of the Way

Today was my 11th radiation treatment – which means that I’m 1/3 of my way through this phase of treatment. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. May 13th I can say hallelujah, I’m done! Sort of literally too. I’m already starting to tan from the roasting. Thankfully, I’m not sore or tender anywhere in my treatment area and I’m managing to keep my muscles pretty pliable and I suppose you could say relatively loosened up with nightly massaging and stretching exercises.

I’m getting to know the radiation treatment team better with each passing day. They are quite the bunch of ladies! They keep me and the other ladies that I see in our waiting room  smiling.

And I’m hearing so many different stories! It’s amazing how similar and yet how different our journeys are.

I must say that the monotony of daily treatments is a little trying. I can only imagine what it will feel like when I’m 2/3 of the way through the 33 cycles.

I’m often reminded of how fortunate we are. Today I learned that Lymphedema was only identified and defined in 1985. That in itself explains why many of the doctors who are proactive about treating it are young. Older doctors didn’t have it in their med school curriculum. And as long ago as 1985 seems to some of us, it really isn’t that far back when you consider the time frame of the education experience of more mature medical professionals. This does make me grateful that I’m being treated with today’s knowledge and not yesterday’s.