wide-eyed at 4am

The End

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It finally came. I’ve wondered how I would feel on this day.

It was sort of anticlimactic.

As had become a habit during our daily trips to LCI Pineville, we stopped at the Starbucks across highway 51 from the hospital. We were getting in the car to head over to the unit with our coffees in hand when my phone rang. I noticed that it was the LCI Radiation Unit calling. Hmmm.

The news was interesting. The previous night’s storms had knocked out power to the entire unit. And while general “power” was on, the machine used to administer radiation treatments was not getting power. The technicians were on the way but it was likely to take at least an hour to get power to the machine.

Ugh! It was Friday the 13th, alright!

We went over anyway. The nurse and I decided that the doctor wanted to check the status of my sunburn, have me set up my follow-ups and discharge me anyway. Maybe by the time we did all of that, everything would be working.

So the doctor wasn’t so optimistic. He knew there was no way that the techs would have the machine working until at least noon or so. But he wouldn’t be surprised if they were down for the entire day.

My thoughts reeled because I thought I was going to be finished! What a chain of events to transpire!

I only had a few minutes to dangle in disappointment.

My doctor let me know that one little boost treatment wasn’t going to disrupt my plans to head to Tampa to see the kids and grandkids and relax for a few days. He was “completely comfortable” with me skipping #33 (or #5 boost) and calling it done!

Apparently, the focus of my radiation was the lymph node areas that were treated fully with the first 28 cycles. The boost treatments were simply focused on my incision as an extra precaution to any seed cells that can be transferred during surgery. They used a bolis with my treatment that “raised” the level of radiation so that I was being treated in areas that are both deep and shallow so the incision perimeters got it anyway.

Yay! We were sent off to Tampa without a 33rd treatment but also without the need to even have it.

So it seems strange that I don’t have a barrage of appointments this week. We pass LCI Pineville and feel the need to turn in – just out of habit.

Next week I meet with my oncologist to set the oral med therapy. But what could taking one pill be compared to what I’ve been doing for the past year. (and it couldn’t have been planned any more exact. My needle biopsy was May 13, 2015. My final radiation in the plan was May 13, 2016. My diagnosis came only 2 days later on the 15th.

I feel more normal every day although I’m still really sore from the radiation and the surgery. I keep wondering what “normal” with my implant and reduction is going to feel like and hoping it’s better than what it feels like now.

My skin is much better but peeling. I have some puffiness and wonder when that will be gone. My right one is more “settled” than just after the reduction and lift but not totally. From what I understand, it could take as long as a year for everything to shake out.  Is it obvious that I’m anxious to see what my boobs are going to look like as a “pair”?

I also gained about 8 pounds during radiation. That’s got to come off and then some. I’m getting back to a “normal” diet since the soreness in my throat is gone and I’m able to eat as before. And the soreness is getting better so that Monday I should be able to get back to some regular workouts. I can also go out in the sun without covering my treatment area with clothes. As long as I use sunscreen, I should be good. That means I can get back to walking on a regular basis. I can’t wait until I am OK’d to get back to running. It all sounds so awesome. I remember my last run vividly. It was on the Monday (July 6) before surgery on Thursday, July 9. I knew it would be the last for a while and I sort of took everything in. The feeling of exhaustion from exercise, the fresh air, the flowers, the birds and squirrels in the park, the sound of babbling water in the fountains, the smell of early lunchtime preparation at restaurants and coffee from Starbucks on the corner and cut grass or mulch as lawn crews work common areas and parks.

I still have a neuropathy – slightly in fingers and more in my feet. I’m still taking the gabapentin for it and I’m wondering how bad the numbness and tingling would be in my feet without these meds. How will that affect my runs?

Other than that, the other stuff – finger and toe nails, dry skin and hair – are coming back into form.

The hair is definitely the biggest change. It’s very gray (or white with gray highlights!) and a little wavier than I would prefer. I’ll roll with it like this – keeping it pretty short – for a while. I may eventually want to go back to the color and longer. We’ll see.

That’s the way it is right now. Just a wait and see on everything.

So “the end” is deceiving. It isn’t the end of everything. It is, however, the end of the grind. The end of the big cancer journey disruption.  The daily or even weekly medical regimen. Now, what I do, I do myself by taking a pill. Easy peasy as pie.

We got this.


Author: jillpurdy

A few months ago I wasn't but now I'm a statistic. That doesn't define me. I'm a daughter, a sister, a wife, a step mom, a grandmother, a friend and a Christian. I will continue to love exercise, music, cooking and food, and my family and friends. I'm stubborn, energetic, giving and too OCD for my own good sometimes. And I'm going to stay this way - despite cancer and the treatments that it takes to give it the royal beatdown.

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