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Two weeks of daily Radiotherapy, Phew! I can cope with that. This might seem like a strange reaction from somebody who wanted to avoid conventional treatment, but a few weeks back I thought I was facing surgery, was then told surgery was impossible as the cancer had progressed too much in my breast. Six weeks of radiotherapy was mentioned and I was led to believe that progression elsewhere was also likely. Devastation, where next, my lungs my brain, both. Thankfully my scan revealed this was not the case, while there is significant progression locally, systemically there is no change. So when two weeks of radiotherapy was recommended damn right I didn’t have to think twice. I may have gone through a couple of weeks of hell wondering, but when the time came I knew what I needed to do.
And it’s done, fine, lovely hospital, staff and patients, slight irritation at wasting beautiful sunny days for 15 minute treatments, a bit tired getting up at the crack of dawn and travelling to and fro, a bit tender but otherwise grand. My first day I meet my friends lovely wisecracking neighbour and we become comrades in arms for the duration. There are amazing people here coping with six and nine weeks of daily treatment, some of them are in serious pain. I know they maybe have no choice and maybe it’s different if the aim is to completely eradicate their cancer but still it’s no mean feat to endure and still have a smile on your face and a kind word to share with a fellow patient.The men seem to stick together and are sometimes even roudy, well the world cup is on!
And it is mostly men from about 55 up and a spattering of women around the same age.
So again I am the novelty, older than I look but still younger than most, I get the maternal and paternal smiles.I make an effort with the glad rags it makes me feel better and somehow I feel I make them feel better too.The radiographers are young, very young and kind and eager and thorough, and though I’ve got used to getting my kit off now I am slightly embarrassed when told by a very young man to drop my gown! There is a warmth and familiarity between patients and staff that comes I suppose with several weeks of daily treatment and an understanding of how serious the situation really is. And maybe because the staff is so young, because we feel protective of them, we too try to keep it all as light hearted as possible. A couple of people worn out by it all dose in the waiting area, a few keep to themselves, but most are happy for an opportunity to start a conversation to connect and pass time.
People in this clinic are all here for the same reason there is no ambiguity about that.
And leaving is emotional, I hope the best for the patients I’ve met who have shared their stories, well for all of them really. I am so grateful to these people who have made what could have been an awful experience so much more than tolerable with their warm smiles and kind words, but lovely as they are I hope I don’t see them again anytime soon.I’ve been told that side effects don’t usually kick in till the treatment has finished and not to plan anything mad for a least a couple of weeks, I could experience redness, sensitivity, swelling and tiredness.
But I am totally unprepared for this irritable, supersensitive, irrational crazy person who surfaces.
I am completely floored, wiped, flat, weepy, sad and totally unmotivated. This scares the bejasus out of me as I haven’t felt like this since I’ve been diagnosed, sure I’ve days of terror and despair but they are usually short lived and I always managed to pull myself together, appreciate what I have, stick a smile on my face and get on with it. I will lay low for a while till it passes. But when will it pass and low is exactly how I feel. How am I going to keep fighting if I don’t feel there is anything worth fighting for. I have to keep reminding myself it’s just the treatment and it will pass.