Thursday, September 17, 2009
Radiation Graduation!! GOD is SO Good Ya'll!!
Hello dear friends and family!
Today I had my LAST radiation treatment. Yeah!! I am now officially done with all of my treatments! Whoo-hooo!!
It was a very special day for me. I have to be honest though and say that I did the oddest thing on the way to the hospital. I found myself crying the whole way. Not from joy but from sorrow.
One reason for this was because I started thinking about the future. What would my life be like now AFTER cancer? I had already had my last weekly visit with the Radiation Oncologist on Tuesday. I asked him at the time how I needed to proactively monitor myself from this time forward. Should I have regular scans? Should I pay close attentioin to the tumor marker blood tests? What should I do?
His answer to me was more complicated than I expected. He said tumor markers don't work with all people. He also said some insurance companies won't pay for scans unless you have an outright symptom. His best advice was to know what was normal for my body and to know my Medical Oncologist. Fortuately he told me I have a top-notch Medical Oncologist (which I already knew).
He told me that one of his patients right now probably has about 3-4 weeks to live because of her metastacized cancer. She did not have breast cancer and initially went somewhere out of state. Her doctor there put her through all these tests which were not necessary in her case (like a mammogram) because he owned the equipment (and could make lots of $$). That doctor emphasized that her mammogram was clear without leveling with her about what she was up against. She had not been told the whole truth. And the truth in my case was he didn't know how my cancer would be monitored. He said sometimes as a doctor that is the hardest thing to tell a patient that "You don't know." He did say though that my Oncologist was a good doctor and would do everything she could to keep a close eye on me. This was both very comforting and very sobering to me.
Laura and Leslie heard every word of this and as we left that day Laura suggested we pray for this woman with a few weeks left to live, whoever she was. I was proud of Laura for thinking of it. We prayed for the woman in our car that morning. It prompted lots of questions about life, about death, about heaven and we talked about it all the whole way home.
That was on Tuesday. Today was Thursday. All of this was on my mind as I drove myself to the hospital for my last treatment.
Also on my mind was the fact that I would have to say goodbye to all the special people I saw every day at the treatment center...everyone from the techs, to the fellow patients to the parking attendent.
I was especially sad because I was told by a tech on Monday that Herbert had to take a break from his treatments and would not be in the rest of the week. I thought I might never see him and Virginia again.
What a pleasant surprise it was when I walked into the hospital and saw them both!
After my treatment I talked with Virginia in the waiting room more about Herbert. She told me that he was diagnosed in March. The cancer had started at his ear and progressed to his throat and lung. He has a circular button on his neck he always has to push whenever he speaks. Virginia told me he'd lost lots of weight and was having trouble eating. They were giving him 7 Ensures a day. She also told me that her daughter who lived several hours away has a lung disease and she is worried about her. She said as long as she "had breath in her body and gas in her car," she'd keep bringing Herbert for his treatments. I thought that was a beautiful statment. Many times when I've seen her Virginia would say, "Isn't God good?" with a big smile on her face. I always cheerfully agreed but today it made me stop and think about it further. I was always saying how good He was in the midst of good news. Ever since my diagnosis my news got better and better. Here she is able to say it even in the hardest of times. I admire her greatly. Now THAT is faith!
I was able to give Herbert and Connie each a GOD IS BIGGER THAN CANCER shirt. That meant so much to me. There were lots of hugs. The techs gave me a radiation graduation certificate. In the waiting room I collected my last cookie on my last cookie day. Boy did that ever taste SWEET!
I came to my last day of radiation with tears of sorrow and left with such joy. As I pulled off in my car I was touched that the parking attendent (who waved at us every morning) remembered it was my last day. I proudly showed him my radiation graduation certificate and he was quite impressed. (Yes, Evie I too made friends with the parking attendent).
And so ends my cancer treatments. I will still have at least 3 (maybe 4) surgeries but the battle waged against the cancer is now over. I hope it will be my last. It doesn't mean that cancer is out of my life for good now. No matter what happens in the future, cancer will always be a part of my life.
Please pray for Connie, for Virginia and her daughter, for Herbert and for that woman the doctor spoke about who is dying of cancer.
Please remember most that "God is so good." I have been a witness that it is true in the best and in the worst of times. Lots of love,