16 May 2010

Counting My Blessings

I started my radiation treatment this week. Things appear to be going "as expected" from the oncologist's perspective. I didn't expect to feel the side effect of fatigue quite so soon. I am receiving a pretty strong dose of radiation over a large area, from the front and the back. It doesn't take too long--I have to be very, very still in an awkward position for about 15 minutes. This is much better than the 30 or 40 minutes that I had to be still during the treatment planning stages.

They had to create a mold for my upper body, head and arms to fit into so that I am always in precisely the same position for each of my 28 to 33 treatments. My arms have to be over my head, and my hands have to grip onto handles that keep me steady and in place. This is not good news for my previously injured right shoulder which I was in physical therapy for up until the time of my diagnosis. Ouch...it has been hurting a lot since this all started.

Additionally, the skin of my right "breast" and upper chest that receive the radiation from the front and side feels like a bad sunburn for several hours after the treatment, and then on and off during the evening, night and morning before I go again at 11:30 a.m. each day to have it done all over again. I have extremely fair and sensitive skin so I am not surprised. They give me a lotion to apply to the radiated areas to try to keep the skin as hydrated as possible. It is soothing when I apply it, but its effects are not long lasting, so I find myself applying said lotion fairly often. They told me that I could not use it too much.

I have a pretty busy wedding cake schedule for this weekend, so we'll see how I function. There were no weddings this week, or the last week of May so at least I am not having week after week of busy. June however, presents the opposite situation. But, it is June and that is the month for brides. Thankfully, my dear sweet Kimberly has been my angel to help compensate for my inabilities. I don't know what I would have done without her.

May 16, 2010

I am sporting my new "un-wigged" hairstyle these days. Everyone, but me, really likes it. It's different for me but I am getting used to it. All I see are my chubby cheeks. My hair is extremely soft, very salt and pepper, with much more salt than I had previously. It has a natural wave, which I have had since my last baby was born, but is more obvious now without the weight of longer hair. This hair, almost 1" long, is 4 and a half months worth of growth. It's going to take forever for my hair to be even long enough to it the bottom of my ears. Oh well, it is what it is.

I felt pretty melancholy during the first few days of this week. I finally figured out that it was because the daily ritual of radiation just reminds me every day of my diagnosis. I was starting to feel more normal (not that I was ever really normal) and now I am being slowed down again. The "every-day-ness" of this treatment is probably going to be more taxing than the treatment's effects. I feel better when I am not alone. I need people. Most of all, I need my family, and sometimes it feels like certain family members forget that I am still going through this horrible thing. Not always...just sometimes.

I am so appreciative of your thoughts and prayers and loving support. I still need them. I try so hard to make sure that I don't let myself be defined by the cancer. It is not who I am, it is just something that I am going through. But, there are days where the burden is all consuming, and I don't like where my thoughts go on those days. I had one of those days on Thursday and I cried in the car while I was driving home from radiation. The afternoon was so difficult. I was so incredibly tired and I had baking to do and I didn't feel like doing it. I felt sad, and angry, and sorry for myself. Then Doug came home from work and offered to help me bake. He has not done that in a very long time. I could feel my countenance change as well as my heart. Isn't it amazing how the charitable act of one person can make such a difference?

I can't help but think of the lyrics to the hymn Count Your Blessings:

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly
And you will be singing as the days go by.

So, amid the conflict--whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey's end.

I know that I am blessed. I know it. I know that there are earthly angels that bless my life every day. My family, my friends, nurses, doctors, technicians or even Shelly at the pharmacy counter at WalMart. I know that even on days when it is really hard to have a positive attitude, I will eventually have my heart soften and feel deep gratitude for all of my blessings.


Catherine said...

Mom, please know that I never forget about you! I love you and I am grateful for all you do!!

Also, I do love your super soft hair. I could "pet" it for hours. It's probably softer than Sydney's!! I am super proud of you for going un"wigged."

Amy said...

I am so sad for your pain, so happy for your impending recovery, so glad you had fun shopping at Kohl's. Your new hair makes you look perky and stylish, and a little bit country club socialite. Think of it as a new alter-ego.

Ramona said...

You are such a strong woman. I am in awe of you.
I realize that you have many weak moments but all in all, you are amazing.

I love your hair and I love you!


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