Monday, March 21, 2016

On ray guns, armor and hiding under the bed

Last Thursday I met my radiologist in Worcester, after which I went to the cancer clinic in Fitchburg where I'll be receiving radiation treatments. Both Brian and I really liked my radiologist, Dr. Moni. She explained everything well, and was very honest with us. There were some hard things that she had to share with us, mostly about how the radiation treatments will affect my body, and in particular, my bladder.  It's not pretty.  But I'll get back to that.

I'll be having my treatments in Fitchburg because it is closer to where we live. The treatments will take place five days a week for five weeks, and it's important that we are able to do them at a center that is as close as possible. Fitchburg is only about 20 minutes away from us. The staff at the cancer center were wonderful. I spent almost an hour in a CT simulation, where the treatment team worked to identify the area that the radiation will be aimed at.  Dr. Moni had asked them to scan me twice, I think probably in an effort to be even more precise, to avoid my bladder as much as possible.  Everything is set up so that when I arrive for the treatments, they just need to put me into my pre-arranged position, punch in the appropriate setting on their ray gun and zap!

Dr. Moni made it very clear that five weeks of radiation won't be enough. The cancer hasn't spread past my cervix, at least not in any discernible way, but it is oddly aggressive and is growing in my uterus. I'll also need internal radiation, where radiation nuggets (bullets?) will be placed inside me, right onto the cancerous area.  And after this, I may still need surgery.

There was a moment, after I had received all the information about what the plan was, what the radiation will do, to the Mutant and to the rest of me, that it all seemed to sink in at once.  I was inside the CT scanner, lying on my back, relaxed, listening to the whir of the machine that was holding me.  Everything that I had been told in the previous hours flooded my mind, and my heart plummeted. I was filled with a feeling of dread. This is going to be awful. Worse than awful. Not only would the therapy cause issues with my bladder, bowels and lady bits during the treatment, some of the damage, particularity to my bladder, could be permanent. These treatments could make my IC worse, permanently.


Over the past six months, I've been working with both my family doctor and my urologist to change medications and implement some healthier lifestyle choices, and I've been able to decrease my pain levels quite a bit.  I feel like my IC has been manageable, probably for the first time in 15 years.  The thought of the pain volume being cranked up again is discouraging.

The day after the visit to the radiologist and the cancer center was a quiet one. I was still exhausted and I felt sad and droopy.  Up to this moment, I had been feeling all empowered, jazzed up, ready to kick cancer's ass. Now, after learning, in detail, about how I wouldn't be kicking cancer's ass without kicking the crap out of myself at the same time, I felt like I wanted to take a nap. For two years. Maybe longer.

I told Brian, I felt like in Lord of the Rings, during the battle at Helms Deep, when all the soldiers stood on the ramparts in the rain, waiting for the battle to start. In the fields before them, thousands of angry, mutant orcs waited, ready for battle.  The thing is, I'm not Gimli, standing in the front row, jumpy with anticipation, looking forward to burying my ax in an orc's head. No, I'm the guy about five rows back, the one whose shield is too small and whose sword is too heavy. I'm the one who's silently wondering if this fort has a back door and would anyone notice if I slipped out?  My stupid helmet keeps slipping down over my eyes and my feet are cold. I'm done. I want to go home.

Of course, I'm not going home. I am home. The enemy is in my house.  I'm going to fight, and I am going to kick cancer's ass. I'll probably just whine about it a lot. You may find me hiding under my bed on occasion.  I'm reminded of Ephesians 6, and the armor of God. I'm glad to have the shield of faith, which is always the right size. And the helmet of salvation, which gives me clearer vision even if it does fall over my eyes, and the sword of the sweet Spirit, who will protect me in the eternal ways, and who will fight for me, always. Add the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness and the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace covering my cold toes and I'm fully equipped.  Also, I have a housecoat of snuggly warmth, friends and family of support and love, and a plush kitty of immense cuddliness.

I can't sugar coat this and mentally, spiritually prepare for it at the same time.  Sometimes reality stinks.  That's the truth.  It is my faith in God that gives me the courage to see things the way they are, not the way I want them to be.  Battles are called battles for a reason.  It's "fighting cancer," not "having tea with cancer" or "swing dancing with cancer."  I believe that God is here with me in my bloody, ugly, oozing, agonizing, miserable reality, and I believe that He is going to walk me through this.  My strength is from Him.  He is in me, and we will do this.  And because of Him, there will be laughter, and joy and so much love in this mess.  There is an otherworldly, ethereal grace that emanates from the Spirit of God in a wounded soul, for those who have eyes to see.  It's love, and grace, and incredibly powerful.

So, I'm gripping my sword a little tighter and pushing my helmet away from my eyes.  I may be so scared that I think I peed a little, but I'm ready to fight. Later.  After my nap.

Just a thought.

1 comment:

Jo O'Brien said...

I wish you comfort for when you're down, hugs for when nothing seems to do but a big squish, compassion because it will be a battle well fought, and love because all kinds of love conquers all things large and small. You can do this, and it is ok to be scared. If you weren't I would worry more about your mind and body. Much love, Jo O'Brien

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