Can you feel it? Hmmm.

Radiation treatment is graded on a pass/fail

Where does the time go?

This summer, every day felt like an eternity. Now, I can’t believe it is already December.

A month after my last radiation treatment and my chest is still red and I lost most of my hair in the area where I was zapped. I look like I’m wearing a V-neck sweater made of hair. I’ll spare you the photos.

I was warned that it would take awhile for my energy level to return to normal and I still find myself sleepy and fatigued some days. Its true that the radiation takes some time to really affect your body so I was more tired after the treatments were done than during the time I was getting treatment. That’s one of the reasons they gave me another month of R&R to catch up. Looks like the doctors do know what they are talking about after all.

Tomorrow – exactly 1 month to the day of my last radiation treatment – I’m going in for my first follow-up PET scan and CT scan. This is to double check that I’m in remission. It is also an important step in treating my SVC syndrome.

The ironic thing in this whole process is that I feel almost exactly the same today as I did a year ago – my head is a little swollen, I get dizzy easy and I sometimes feel pressure in my chest. This is because, even though I am cancer-free, I am still carrying around a large tumor in my chest which is restricting my blood flow. A little gift from Mr. Hodgkins that I’ll probably have for the rest of my life.

Dealing with this condition should be the final step in my treatment. I’m looking forward to getting it all done before the New Year.

So, its the end of a very long year and a good time for reflection. What am I supposed to have learned from this experience?

Well, Huey Lewis said it best – “The power of love is a curious thing.” I think the most important lesson I’ve learned is the depth and breadth of love and support that people are capable of. Not just those close to me, but friends of friends, strangers and fellow cancer patients. It blows my mind when I think of how many people reached out to offer kind words, advice, and support in so many ways.

For Jen and I, this experience has made our world smaller. It has brought us closer to many people and also put us in touch with many, many more. When I look back on this experience, I don’t remember the details of the nausea or the chemo or the radiation – but I remember the emails and the cards and the phone calls. That is the feeling I’ll always carry with me.

For me, spending so much time being a patient has given me more questions than answers. How can I make my time on Earth more valuable? What are my priorities? How can I show my love and appreciation for the people in my life? What makes one day more worthwhile than another? Why are so many things that taste so good so bad for you (I’m talking to you, Girl Scout cookies…)

These are some of the things I’ll be thinking about when I’m laying in the big machine tomorrow getting my innards mapped.

And, not to leave you hanging, here are all the lyrics to that Huey Lewis song that I can’t get out of my head: Power of Love

You’re welcome.

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7 responses to “Can you feel it? Hmmm.

  1. Whenever I hear that song it makes me think of Back to the Future. Remember Flea in that one?

    You are a blessing to us, too, bro-in-law. Keep the faith! Strength to you.

  2. Congrats on your diploma! Hope the tests went smoothly. There are some huge snowballs over here on the east coast with your name on them.

  3. Wow. I could not agree more with how you describe your post-treatment feelings. Did they really give you that diploma? If so, that is awesome and much deserved! Glad to hear that you survived radiation relatively unscathed. All my best to you and your very sweet wife this holiday season. I’m sure you’re looking forward to 2010 as much as we are!

  4. I’m so glad you’ve come out of this looking at the glass as half full and ready to take each day as a gift. Congratulations on making it through – I love your diploma 🙂

  5. I wish there was a way to tell you how much your experience has also shared in the lives of us total strangers. If I’ve learned anything from following your year it’s been that you can’t be honest with other people if you can’t first be honest with yourself…something that you’ve done with great courage in your little corner of cyberspace. I am humbled by your (and Jen’s) ability to stand tall in the face of such adversity…it’s something that I need to work on! Thank you for opening up your life and for rocking my world 🙂

  6. Thanks for all the kind words. I’m touched that you’re touched. I don’t think I set out to teach anybody anything – I just wanted to share a little piece of my world with anyone who would listen.

    I’m still working on exactly what it is that I’ve learned through this whole experience. I’ll let you know when I’ve got it all figured out.

    But for now, its enough to know that we’ve all been able to share this space together. More soon…

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