Tag Archives: radiation

Missing Cancer

“I actually miss it.” I said, probably a little too casually.

Her head cocked to the side as her furrowed brows conveyed her confusion.  A tight smile ran across her lips as her mind reeled with the possibilities of how she had misheard me.

“No, really.  I miss it.” I assured her.

They say that after you have a baby you forget about all of the physical agony your body just went through in the wake of basking in the joy of the new life before you.  And although I can’t say this is 100% true, I can say with complete certainty that it’s worth it.  And I would go back in time and do it again, both times, in a heartbeat.  I’ll never forget how much it sucked, but I’ll always remember that it was worth it.

When I look back on my cancer journey, I feel quite the same way.  Because even though there were so many tears and there was so much heartbreak and physical suffering, everything that happened was ultimately good.  Even if not in the moment, it certainly lead to good.  And I miss it.

When I was sick and facing death, I felt God more clearly than I even knew was possible.  My relationship with Him was solid and easy.  His words were clear and His depths seemed to have no end.  I think back and envision our times together as a literal walk side by side in a lush and beautiful garden on a warm, breezy summer evening.  Just the two of us.  The soft, sweet grass squishing gently between my toes as I beamed with pride at the chance to walk with my Father.  Side by side.  Every time I think of it, this is the image in my head and I gasp a little every time I remember this feeling.  So real.  So close.  So much love and intimacy.  

And so fleeting.

And I hate that it’s over and I hate that it’s so hard now.  I have to work so hard to find Him now.  I know He’s here and I will not forget what has done for me.  But I miss it.  I so much miss that intimacy and connection.  I know that even if I don’t get to experience that again in my life, although I yearn for it, that that has been just a glimpse of what is awaiting me when I pass.  And I long for it, as weird as it might sound.

But I thank God for the fact that not only can I, with confidence, assure someone that He really does work for the good of those who love Him, but that I can look back and actually see where that has happened.  

I was willing to die of it meant somehow that more people would find Him through my death than through my living.  And I still mean that.  But I’ve actually gotten to witness first-hand the genuine love of the Lord gripping my children and I get to walk them through tough moments in their lives and I get to see them putting the pieces together of who Jesus is and why we need Him.  I get the great privilege of serving in ministries where I can see Jesus working first hand.  I’m not sure I could have looked at parenting or ministry with such a God-centered urgency without cancer being a pressure on me to do so.  And I thank God for this every day.

Although I’m thrilled to still be here, it was never my goal to survive cancer.  Maybe I was pessimistic or maybe just realistic, but there was a point where, medically, survival wasn’t in the cards and I accepted that.  I wish I could say I had a fighter’s fire within me that just wasn’t going to give up, but that just isn’t true.  Don’t get me wrong, I always appreciate when people say they’ve found strength because of my story.  That to me is such a blessing and I’m so glad for it.  But when it came down to it, I’ve never in my life been someone who people would describe as particularly brave or courageous.  Any strength that I may have projected came only from God.  It was in my illness that I finally understood what God meant when He said that in our weaknesses is where He shows His strength!  I am, and I say this without fishing for compliments, literally as ordinary as they come.  I am awkward and self-conscious and just completely and painfully average.  

But yet somehow through my circumstances, God was able to reach people and draw them to Him.  I’m still in awe that I was able to play any small part in the growth and cultivation of anyone’s faith.  It’s beyond anything I could have dreamed of.

But a few months ago I began to feel like a hypocrite trying to comfort people in the depths of their pain when I was no longer at a place of physically suffering on that level.  And I had something, at least for the time being, that I couldn’t assure them they would have.  I had life.  I had clear scans and improving health.  I had a second chance and I knew that wasn’t anything I could in good conscience give people hope for.  That wouldn’t be fair or honest.  So I stopped writing for the time being and focused on the relationships right in front of me and how to best serve Jesus in a more hands-on way.  Not  I’ve ever been hands-off in ministry, this is just where I felt God leading.

This is something I’ve said from the beginning with this blogging stuff: I don’t want to give people false hope.  There is no hope in medicine, doctors, treatments, holistic stuff, any of that.  All of that can and will, at one point, fail us.  There is hope only in the salvation that comes from Jesus Christ.  That will never change and His grace will never fail us.  I never wanted to give people false hope and I felt that as a stage 4 melanoma survivor who is doing, well, fine, my continued blogging would do just that.  Do I want that for them?  More than anything!  But I can’t give false hope.

I don’t say this to be coldhearted but honest.  I pray for people to be healed and I desperately want that for people who are suffering but I just never found hope in that.  Hope comes from knowing Jesus is who He says He is and did for us what He said He’s done.  God doesn’t change or fail us or leave us.  He may allow suffering but if we embrace it and try to use it, it will be used for good.

I’m just lucky enough somehow to be able to have been around long enough to see some of this good happening.  I’m so appreciative of people who have shared with me how my story has helped them or a loved one.  And because of that I am much more conscious about telling people how much I appreciate them and how much their stories have helped me.

It was just so beautiful.  It was simple.  It was clear and fresh and everything good.

And I miss that.

But wow am I glad to still be here.

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It’s My Cancer-versary…

There are lots of things in my life that are amazing and awesome, but this is downright unbelievable.  It’s crazy.  Insane, actually.  Today marks 3 years since I was diagnosed as having advanced stage malignant melanoma.  So much has happened (and if you’ve been with me from the beginning you’re well aware of that) but as I soaked it in today through all of the wonderfully mundane things I did, I realized that so much is the same.  How can this be?  How can my life look so normal?  It’s unfathomable (don’t worry, I’ll run out of adjectives eventually…)

It’s wild to think that three years ago today I was at work in our church office with my cell phone right beside me just waiting for it to ring.  I already knew.  I knew I was sick but there was that small glimmer of hope that they were just wrong.  That the biopsy would show the lymph nodes were benign.  That it was all just a crazy scare.  

I’ll never forget taking that phone call.  Hearing those words.  Trying to soak in everything it means to have cancer while also just trying to figure out the logistics of getting an appointment at Penn and the scans I’d need to rule out more metastasis.  How would I get there?  Who would watch the kids?  What am I supposed to tell my one and two year old?! It was right then that I learned that dealing with cancer is an existential awakening as well as a logical, practical process.  There were steps and protocol and buttloads of appointments.  Appointments for days.  And scans.  And more appointments.  More specialists.  Endless specialists.  (Here we learn how good it is to have cancer in America.  We are fortunate to have this level of care and for that I’ll always be grateful.)

It’s been 1,059 days since I heard the words, “You have cancer.”  And not any part of that was easy.  Not physically, not emotionally, not relationally, not spiritually.  The surgery, the radiation, the chemo.  All of it was awful.  It was awful for me and everyone who knew me.  I don’t say that to sound conceited, but you don’t realize it until you have it that cancer affects everyone you know.  And it’s hard to watch.

And then came that little part where we were told it’s terminal.  I’m going to die.  And not in the philosophical sense of “oh we are all dying aren’t we?” but in the “buy a burial plot, tie up all the loose ends that you can, and look at these hospice pamphlets” sort of way.

I was told I wouldn’t live past Christmas 2014.  That was when they found my brain tumor and I was told the cancer was “exploding in my body”.  They would try to slow it down, try to control it of they could, try to zap it as it popped up, but at the end of the day, the term “quality of life” was thrown around much more than one would like to hear when they are 30 and with a young family.  

669 days.  I’m 669 days past my expiration date.  669 glorious, beautiful, painful, crazy, wonderful days.  It’s absolutely baffling.  It’s something that makes me want to stand up and cheer and it’s something that without exception brings shame and guilt.  Every single time I hear about someone who has passed from cancer, all I can think is “it’s not fair. That should be me.”  Survivor’s guilt is real, and it is painful.

But I’ve grown.  I’ve loved more radically.  I’ve reached out more.  Been a better mother and wife because of this.  I’ve been able to watch my kids grow and learn and be awesome little people.  I know people who don’t like to think of their cancer as a journey, and that’s ok.  But for me it absolutely has been.  I’ve allowed the Lord full control of my entire life and have trusted the Spirit in times when I could not possibly do things myself.  I’ve learned that God has a sense of humor in that I’ve been privileged enough to have been able to (and continue to) share my story in many churches and at cancer events.  I hate public speaking, but I love the Lord and wish to be some small part of furthering His kingdom so I’ve (sometimes with grumbling) agreed to do His will here for as long as I possibly can.  I’ve learned how to say yes to God, unquestioningly.  And that’s been the best part.  

And I’ve learned that, above all and through everything, my only goal is to spread hope.  I wish I could honestly say that I was interested in giving people hope that they may survive cancer.  But I can’t and won’t do that.  Because I never want to lie to people.  But I will absolutely tell people about the hope in Christ.  The hope of peace, purpose, and a love that surpasses anything Hollywood can concoct.  Hope in something very real and absolutely true.  And hope that through Him, our sufferings are not in vain.

I’m still here.  I don’t understand any of this, and of course my prognosis is still guarded, but I don’t feel cancery.  I don’t feel like someone with cancer.  Although mentally it will always be there and physically it’s statistically very likely to be an issue again in the near future, I feel good.  And have peace.  And, Lord willing, tomorrow I will celebrate 670 days past my expiration date.

Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this with me.  Whether walking alongside me physically or just hearing of my story and praying.  I just love you all so much.  

Happy Cancerversary to me…

Just a month before diagnosis. Blissful ignorance…
After my first radiation treatment (and about 1 month post neck dissection surgery)
I know it’s gross, but this is what radiation does, folks
Zapping my brain tumor with gamma knife
Dat port tho

I’d do it all again in a heartbeat ❤

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Don’t forget the sunscreen!

So this week has been….interesting! The highs have been really high and the lows have been really low. I finished my radiation on Friday (yay!) and at lunch time my husband calls me to say we are going out to dinner to celebrate (score!) but when he gets home around 3pm, he is really sick. Really, really sick. Luckily Eric’s parents were around to get him to the hospital. And after several hours in the ER we find out it’s his appendix and that they will do surgery the next morning. So from Friday evening to Sunday morning Eric had to stay in the hospital for fluids and IV antibiotics. Turns out he had an umbilical hernia that they needed to fix while they were in there AND his appendix had leaked a little and had gangrene on it! The surgeon gave us pics of it, so that was pretty cool. We also had lots of visitors which was great and really helps you get through.

Saturday night we had a high moment again- my sister in law (Eric’s sister) and her now fiance got engaged! I’m so excited for them. And the ring is stunning, just sayin. Then Sunday Eric was discharged and we had a pretty quiet evening. Monday comes and I am anxiously awaiting the cable guy – we have not had tv for the 5.5 years we’ve been married so this was exciting! Bring on the Saved By The Bell reruns!! – when I get a text that my mom is in the hospital with extreme dizziness and nausea. Luckily I got the news while an awesome family from our church was visiting (you know who you are and you’re amazing and encouraging and we love you guys!) or I would have lost it.

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They brought me this cake :')

My mom’s issues turned out to be vertigo. Not a fun thing to go through, just ask my mom, but a relief in that it wasn’t anything worse like a stroke or something. So later that afternoon just as soon as Eric lets the cable guy in, I get a call saying we are going to Florida – for a week! Here we are up again!! That made for a fun night of exploring our cable options and planning for this trip.

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Our son loves my radiation mask! He puts on and says, "I'm Mommy now!" haha

Then it snowed Tuesday. A lot. And I had to cancel my appointments at Penn with my oncologist and radiation oncologist’s nurse. That’s just an annoyance though. So besides feeling like I swallowed a cheese grater (my throat is beyond sore, even on 2700mg a day of gabapentin and some ibuprofen thrown in) and looking quite leperous in my facial area, I’m doing great and my hubby and mom are too. Whew.

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Unclean!! Sorry if this grosses anyone out!

And it’s officially official. We are going to Disney! In three weeks! We are going before I start my year of chemo – not excited. But this amazing charity, For Pete’s Sake, is sending the four of us to Florida for a full week, all expenses paid. I still get teary-eyed thinking about it. Once I beat this cancer and am back to work, I fully intend on supporting them and their mission. I’m told they even host a 5k color run in the summer – would love to participate sometime! Color runs are seriously the bomb. I only did one but it was a really cool experience – right Shayla? (; Apparently there are a few charities by this name, and they’re probably all great, but this particular one’s website is http://takeabreakfromcancer.org I sit back and just am amazed that this organization is completely dedicated to giving people with cancer fun and great memories with their families and let us, well, take a break from cancer! We get to take a break from the tests, the treatments, the doctor appointments, the bloodwork, the everything! When you are undergoing cancer treatments, cancer is your life. And not just yours, your loved ones’ too. And we get to take a break from it!!

But the funny thing is, I have melanoma and I’m choosing to go someplace (hopefully) sunny for the week! What am I thinking?! Truthfully, I am scared. I am scared of being in the sun and scared of putting my kids in it too as we know this beast is hereditary. I wonder if mentally I will be able to take a break from this cancer. I know I know, poor girl and her free trip to Florida! Lol sometimes I amaze myself at the stuff I come up with to worry about! But it’s there in the back of my mind anyway. And it always will be. So I will pack hats for everyone and sunglasses too (you can get melanoma in your eyes, you know!)

The running joke has been now – don’t forget the sunscreen! And it’s so true. I will never go anywhere without it now. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that all I need is Jesus and sunscreen. Jesus is actually a lot like sunscreen in some ways. Let me explain; they can only help you if you use them correctly. I can’t just walk around in direct sunlight holding a bottle of sunscreen and just be like “Nah I’m good, I’ve got this sunscreen.” If I don’t apply it, it’s not helping me. See where I’m going with this? I can’t just walk around with a cross tattoo or necklace or emblem on my shirt or carry around a Bible and expect to get the benefits. We have a lot of expectations of God, but guess what? That’s a two-way street. It’s a relationship and in any relationship there are shared expectations. That means He expects things from us too. Feel free to disagree with me, I am able to handle discussions like that. But until you show me scripture that says otherwise, I’ll stand firm in the stance that if we have the desire to have Jesus in our lives, we are expected to read the Bible, follow Jesus, pray, and listen. We are expected to love God with our whole heart and love other people as ourselves. I’m not perfect by any means. I’m not claiming to be. But I just wanted to share that thought with you.

Jesus and sunscreen; that’s all I need. Pale is the new tan, anyway (;

Dude, where’s my hair?

I did it again! I cried. Not just cried, ugly cried. I couldn’t help it, all of my hair in the radiation area decided to fall out at the same time. Seriously just like popped out. So I did what any girl would do; I sobbed hysterically in the shower while raking fistfulls of hair out of my scalp. Haha I know it’s ridiculous. I mean, if I wear my hair down no one would ever even know it was missing. So why did this bother me so much? Was it because it was a sign that cancer and treatments have a lot of control in my life and over my body these days? Maybe. Was it a scary preview of what chemo might be like? Yeah, I guess. But, if I’m being honest, I think it was just another blow to my already fragile self-esteem.

I have always been someone who struggled with whatever the opposite of vanity is. Would that be low self-esteem? I have never been someone who could just accept way I looked. I always struggled with my weight and never lived up to what I thought I should look like. And since I’m out of touch with reality, I thought I should look like Gisele Bundchen. Here’s the frustrating part, looking back, I used to look good! I looked like me and all along that was just fine. Here is a pic from our wedding:

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Look at sweet baby Eric (;

But seriously, if you would have asked me 5 years ago how I looked in this pic, I could have easily pointed out 10 or so flaws and would have picked myself apart. Sheesh.What must God think when we do that? Our ministry with the teens leaves me so sad when I hear the girls picking themselves apart the same way I used to (who am I kidding – still do) and I’m just sitting there staring at these beautiful young ladies, these flawless creations of our Creator just wanting to cry. Wanting to shake each one of them and say, “Stop it! What is wrong with you?!” But I don’t do that because who needs a lawsuit for harrassment?? Lol. But it just seems like this beast runs rampant. This voice that tells us we are “less than” and that our unique character traits that God handpicked for us are “flaws” that need to be hidden, covered, fixed, etc. We need to understand that the concept of what’s beautiful changes between cultures and through generations. Seriously, look at pictures of your parents when they were your age. Would you wear your hair like that? That’s a big no. (Sorry Mom!!) And would you ever wear those clothes? Neevvvverrrr. But she still looks beautiful and it has nothing to do with the fads, her weight, her makeup, any of that nonsense. So what I’m trying to figure out is why we obsess and become a slave to something that like literally doesn’t matter? I’m talkin to me here too, people!

I don’t have an answer to that question. But I do have a solution. Let’s look at a really popular verse in the Bible: Psalm 139:13-14. This is David talking to God and he says, “For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

You’ve probably heard the last part of this dozens of times. But think about it. You’re not just some random composite of your parents’ dna but a purposeful creation of God! Wow. God knows your struggles and knows your “anxious thoughts” as David says in verse 23. And here’s the best part – He cares. He has given all of us something completely amazing and in no way tangible; he gave us all potential. All of us, no matter our circumstances. Use it. Don’t let it go by. Don’t wait for tomorrow – I’m living proof that you never know what tomorrow will bring. Cancer brings a unique set of challenges but we all have our issues, right? It’s time to step up and find our purpose and let our identity be found solely in Christ. Then you can look at yourself in a whole new light.

Now surgery has left me with a swollen face on the right side and several more chins than I’m comfortable with. And now the hair loss. Here it is:

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I’m hoping Rihanna does this to her hair soon so I’ll just look like a trend setter (;

What I’m getting at is maybe God is showing me what a waste of time all that was. My realization is if I want to truly be changed by God the way I say I do, then I need to accept the changes that I don’t understand and, quite frankly, don’t like. Job 2:10 says, “Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?” My pal Job gets it. We can’t be refined without going through the fire. And we can’t be changed if our hearts aren’t completely open to God’s will for us. And trust me, it’s hardly ever what you’d pick for yourself. It’s better. Psalm 9:10 (can you tell I’m reading Psalms a lot lately??) says, “you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” Never! You hear that?? NEVER!! What an awesome God we serve. I’ll end on that note, but I am going to add….
5 MORE TREATMENTS!!! :))

Glass Case of Emotion

I think I’m coming to understand how Ron Burgundy felt when the man punted Baxter. Anchorman references aside, I think that “glass case of emotion” is a pretty accurate description of my last few days. I feel completely trapped. It’s like my days are already planned out for me and the plan is totally lame. I have grown accustomed to getting my radiation treatments, it kind of became the “new normal” pretty quickly. But now I have to stay inside and away from crowds and any group of people where someone could be sick (read: stay away from everyone. It’s flu season after all). I’m a social person by nature so being couped up in the house all the time is pretty much torture. I can have visitors, just can’t go places like church – 😦 – grocery stores, restaurants, etc. Every time the nurse at the radiation center asks me how I’m doing, my answer is usually telling her my frustrations with this situation and not so much the physical side effects she’s looking for. But she’s so sweet and so kind and always reminds me “it’s only temporary”. Yes. Temporary. Right now it doesn’t seem like it, but it’s the truth and deep down I know it. The lonliness and seclusion won’t last forever. My longing to go and do the things we used to do will one day be satisfied, Lord willing. Perhaps someday we will get to take the kids to Disney (my all-time super dream).  Makes it a little harder when my husband is currently with the youth group (pretty much my favorite thing) and I’m stuck on the couch feeling so tired that hibernation seems completely plausible.

So before you ask me if I want some cheese with that whine, I wanna tell you how blessed I feel. I have absolutely no specific reason, but it’s a feeling of peace that I can’t shake, and obviously don’t want to. Yesterday I taught myself to crochet and since the kids were at my awesome in-laws’, I had a little time to sit and try it out. So I put my Bible app on Job and let it read it out loud. I told myself I wasn’t gonna stop til it was over. So one completely depressing hour later, I felt super lucky that I only have cancer! Lol. Job 1:21 says, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; let the name of the Lord be praised.” And this was after some pretty bad stuff had happened to him. No seriously, you think you’ve got problems?? Even his wife told him to curse God and die (ha…women!), but he didn’t. I’m sure I don’t fully understand the whole theology of the book, but I did get out of it that Job’s friends were kinda turds when they kept insisting that God was punishing Job for some sin and that people who truly serve God would be protected from things like that. But Job knew that wasn’t the case.

All this to say, things have been taken from me (hopefully temporarily): social events of any kind, any feeling of wakefulness, my normal looks, a feeling of being able to take care of my family, sense of freedom, etc.

But things have been given! A renewed sense of intimacy with the Lord, a new idea of what it means to walk in faith, a more humble spirit in asking for and recieving help from others, some friendships have grown, I am still able to spend loads of time with my hubby and kids, etc.

I choose to believe there’s good in every situation and that God is absolutely and wholly in charge of this. And let His name be praised!! ((insert Natalie Grant’s “Your Great Name” So far I feel pretty good physically and that is awesome. Here’s a song by Israel & New Breed to celebrate that! Such a fun song  http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=mQqBFvTQ_2E

Here I am after my 13th treatment:

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Woohoo!! 7 to go – I CAN do this! Not sure why I felt the need to take a pic, but you gotta remember I’m documenting this for myself too. Still can’t fully use my lip and my face is still super swollen. I’m a little worse for the wear, but I’m still here! “By Your grace I live and breathe to worship You.”

And since this has been my most random post ever, let’s keep it going with a pic of our dog in our son’s underwear (:

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The halfway mark!

Well, for radiation anyway. I’m so glad I can say I only have 10 radiation treatments left! I was clueless in the beginning of treatments as to how much this would affect my body. It is all totally doable at this point, the side effects, while definitely there, are mild. They include: dry mouth, a constant bad taste in my mouth, food tastes not as great, headaches, redness at radiated area (down my right side of my face and neck), and tiredness. It sounds bad, but at this point it’s fine. My radiation oncologist wants to start me on an anti-seizure medicine that will basically block my pain pathways so that I don’t need to take narcotics in the upcoming weeks. I’ve been fortunate so far in that I started treatments on a Thursday and had breaks for weekends, Christmas, and New Years. But now I have my last 10 treatments all jammed in the next two weeks. So the side effects will come and come hard apparently. I asked him if there was any chance I wouldn’t develop the really bad symptoms and he basically said no. So I will take this anti-seizure medicine in the hopes that it blocks my pain pathways (or something. I don’t really know) I will probably start it on Monday and the main side effect is drowsiness. He said to be prepared to feel a little out of it the next few weeks. Great. I guess we gotta do what we gotta do!

I also learned the hard way that another interesting side effect of radiation is a weakened immune system. I got the stupid stomach bug! It was advised to me that I now stay home as much as possible and basically not go anywhere since it’s flu season. And we don’t even have cable!! Lol, but for real.

Also, I got to see my dermatologist yesterday and unfortunately she did scrape a spot on the right side above my ear that looks suspicious. It was all I could do not to cry. All I can think is what if this was the spot this whole time causing all the problems and we just attributed it to the other one? Or worse yet, what else is lurking on me that has yet to be found? There is a paranoia with this sort of thing that is hard to shake. I am choosing to continue to believe that God has this worked out for my good and that all of this is just a part of His bigger plan. So far I have no reason to believe otherwise, but as every day seems to get a little harder it’s just something I need to keep reminding myself.

There are two songs really speaking to me right where I’m at right now. One is a Christian song and the other isn’t and they touch me for very different reasons. The Christian one is “Already There” by Casting Crowns. This song is achingly beautiful and I take comfort in its message of God’s bigger plan. Here it is if you wanna listen: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Qtg9axTtNLg

The other song is “Pompeii” by Bastille. If you listen to pop music at all there’s no doubt you’ve heard it. It’s like someone got in my head and put my thoughts together very poetically – and with a catchy beat. Sometimes I get choked up listening to it because it hits so close to home. Here it is of you don’t know it (or if you like it and just want to listen): http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=V3WqMcvts3Y

I hope you all are staying healthy! Make sure you stay home if you have the flu and be sure to get to a dermatologist to get any funky spots checked! A friend of mine from high school, who is also in her 20s, just had a spot removed from her back that came back as melanoma. I pray this is where her battle with it ends. Get checked, guys!!

These are my homies!

Wow, it’s been a little while since I’ve updated. I hope you all had a fabulous Christmas, and if you didn’t, well, at least it’s over now! Our Christmas was great. The kids had a blast and loved the whole experience so much. It really brings the magic back to the season when you celebrate with kids. I mean, our three year old gets ridiculously excited at even the poorest excuse for a light display on a house. Really makes you appreciate everything all over again – I love it!

As we are tumbling towards the new year, I am on my 7th radiation treatment out of 20 and am really trying to take in this experience. It really is something. As far as side effects, I feel more tired than normal, I have a slight sore throat, some dry mouth, and a few mouth ulcers. But, all in all, I’m feeling pretty good! It still blows my mind that a little 5 minute treatment can cause so many undesirable side effects (mine are most likely yet to come – yaayyyy).

The most interesting part by far is the interactions with the other patients. These are my people. These are my homies. Granted, I’m typically about 30+ years younger than anyone else there (the youngest person I’ve seen there so far is probably in her early 50s) but when you have something like this in common, you form fast friendships.

It’s pretty nice actually. You have a scheduled appointment at the same time every day (mine is 10:15) and since most people are there early for their appointments, myself included, you really start to form relationships with the people who have appointment times right before and after yours. The way it works is we come into the main waiting room where whoever came with me waits then I head straight back to the radiation area where I change into my beautiful gown and then sit and wait in a separate patients’ waiting area. Some people’s spouses come back to this area, but most people come back by themselves.

So now that I’ve set the scene, lemme tell you about my homies. Bear with me, this is going somewhere! I promise. There’s Shirley (that’s probably not her real name, but since I don’t know it, it’s just what I call her in my head). She’s a few appointments ahead of me so I don’t see her much, but she has, of all things, melanoma!! She’s probably about 75 and she’s taking it really hard. Then there’s Doug after her. He is probably about 65 and has prostate cancer and knows just enough about everything so there is never a dull moment with him around! Then is Big Red. Def not her real name, but it’s appropriate because she is very tall and has beautiful long red hair that is always perfectly curled. She is probably in her early 50s and is always dressed to the nines and her hair and makeup perfect. She comes back with her husband and they don’t talk to anyone but each other. That’s ok. Everyone deals differently. Then there’s my favorite homie Joanne. She is in her 60s and has uteran cancer and is so sweet and wonderful. I always enjoy our chats. Same with Phil who comes next. He’s probably in his late 60s and has a muscle cancer called a sarcoma. He always comes back with his wife and they are so sweet!

All this to say, this experience has opened my eyes to how quickly our playing fields can be leveled. Or, to put it another way, how easy it becomes in this situation to see these people as, well,
people. Let me explain. All I see now is people who are mad and offended going off about the other side who made them mad by offending them. It is nothing now for someone to completely dehumanize the other side because they are “morons” or “ignorant” or whatever. And it doesn’t stop there. People are completely demonized because of how they think on one subject or another. Celebrities are forced to state everything they are for or against so that we can decide whether or not we “like” them, or if they are just another ignorant moron. What are we teaching our kids? That people who think differently are bad? Here’s what I’ve found, I don’t know how any one of these other patients think about any hot topic of the moment. But we are there for each other and are supporting each other and none of the other stuff matters. None of it. Jesus taught us that it’s not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick and that he didn’t come to save the riteous but the unriteous. Hello!? That’s all of us!!! Not one of us is better than another, no matter how cultured or Godly or progressive we may be. We are fooling ourselves and destroying Jesus’ mission when we catergorize and then dehumanize God’s precious people. I blame social media, honestly. It’s so easy now to make our views known and we are all just waiting for something to offend us. I’m calling out all sides of every debate here!! And I’m guilty of it too, trust me. Pretty sure I lost a lot facebook friends after the last election. But you live and learn.

One of my hugest pet peeves is when Christians expect non-Christians to act and think like Christians. It’s absurd. Maybe I have a different perspective because I lived on the non-Christian side for most of my life. But look at Jesus. He never compromised himself or his values, he lived the last years of his life in a state of persecution and hardship, and he loved people on such a deep level that people flocked to him. Don’t get me wrong, I would never tell anyone to compromise God’s truth and just try to pacify people, I’m suggesting maybe we love people enough to break down these barriers that we are putting up unessicarily. Let’s do it like Jesus did it! Love people, speak truth, and forgive always. I’m getting a taste of that now. I’m able to see these people on such a human level. My concern is not what they think of A&E or Miley Cyrus or the president or whatever, but how they are feeling physically, how they are emotionally and spiritually, how their families are holding up, etc. It’s like this amazing little secret place where nothing else matters but people, and I want expand it to the rest of my life. Each person there knows that I’m praying for them, because I’ve told them. Shirley looked at me like I was nuts, Doug hugged me, Big Red maybe didn’t hear me (maybe), and Joanne said the same back to me.

People are important. People are, actually, the only important thing, and I had lost sight of that a little in the past few months, so I’m glad for this reminder. I don’t want this to come across like I’m condemning anyone or acting like I’m better than anyone, I was just hoping others could get the same benefit from my treatments that I got.