As I write this, I am well into week 4 of radiation. I have seven sessions left, which seems like nothing. The end is in sight!
It has been a roller coaster of emotions. Exhaustion. Gratitude. Frustration. Sadness. Loneliness. And sometimes – on a good day – acceptance and peace and hope.
When I was diagnosed with sarcoma my surgical oncologist told me that this type of cancer is very rare, very aggressive and very resistant to treatment. I can honestly say that I believe that my tumor has shrunk during this time of radiation and I truly believe that it has been so effected because of the myriad of prayers that has been continuously poured out for me across the globe. It has been a tremendous thing for me to witness – literally thousands of people praying for me, most of whom I have never met in person. It’s when I reflect on this that I am overwhelmed with gratitude and hope.
The whole point of radiation is to kill the cancer in the tumor as much as possible so that the surgery is easier and there’s a higher possibility of getting all the cancer out at once. If it shrinks, that’s a huge positive that no one was expecting. Of course some part of me is hoping for a miracle despite the improbability. A tiny voice has told me on more than one occasion that so many people are praying, maybe it’s possible…
But that, really, isn’t the point of prayer. I’m praying for acceptance of my situation whatever it may be. I went into this knowing a few facts that were hard to accept. That after surgery I won’t be considered “cancer free” by my oncology team until I’m 10 years out. My chance of sarcoma appearing somewhere else is 20% – and that’s a high number for me to think about. The fact that the cancer was still localized after having first noticed this lump two years ago is very unusual, and that the sarcoma itself is high-grade (aka, more aggressive) gives me hope that maybe once I’m past surgery it won’t reappear.
Last week – week three – was hard for me. Honestly: I struggle to show weakness to others. I talked a little bit about this in one of my posts last week, but I’ll explain better here.
Without going into details, last week two different things happened with other radiation patients that made me feel the injustice of my situation. Everyone – everyone – is at least 30 years older than me, probably closer to 40+ if I’m being honest. Everyone comes with their spouse and their grown up children and I imagine that they don’t have jobs and can go home and rest or do whatever they want after radiation is over. And here I am, with my little nursling who just this week turned 5 months old, my stroller, my diaper bag, my phone volume on high in case my sitter calls me about the two tornados – ahem, toddlers – at home. I have been told by all of the faculty (doctors, nurses, social worker) that I need to take time for myself but I feel guilty because I have a husband who works his butt off for us and three very little children who need me. Sickness is part of old age and part of the process of walking towards death. As I put it bluntly in my frustrated vent to my husband – old people are supposed to get sick. I am 27 years old. Not even 30. Not even close to “halfway” through my life, and I’m in the same situation as them except my situation is harder because I’m not in a place where I can spend all day doing what I want to do.
This attitude rocked me last week and made my life a lot harder. I’m sure that getting angry is part of this whole process, but in that moment I was like – this is not fair, I don’t understand why this is happening. I let other people who are also suffering get under my skin with their comments instead of letting go and letting God. I don’t understand the plan of God but I do believe there IS a plan.
Week four has been very exhausting. My whole body is tired. My radiation site is red and puffy and irritated because we are killing that dang thing and killing some healthy cells in the process. I am nervous about what the next few weeks will bring. Once I’m done with radiation we will redo my scans (MRI, CT), see what progress has been made and make a game plan for surgery at the beginning of September. If all goes well, then the best case scenario is that I’ll go in for scans every 3 months for the next 3 years and then twice a year until I hit the 10 year mark.
Pray for me, that I don’t let the little things get me down and that I remember all of the good things that have happened to me in my life, and in this time! I’m almost at the end of the first stage of this journey.
I’d love to answer questions in another post – so feel free to send me any you may have!