Radiation Vacation Ending

December 21, 2012

“Here we are… at the room… ”  This is a line from Ash Tree, written by the incredibly magical GHE.   I said it every day as I walked into the room with the laser, preparing for radiation and willing the room to be my portal; leading to life for me and death for all the things holding me back.  And I said it for the last time 1 week ago today.

Radiation seems to have been the hardest part of treatment to get through.  Maybe because I was in an unfamiliar place without my army beside me.  Maybe because treatment was every single day and not just once a month.  Maybe because it is the end of the year and I have been living through this for a full twelve months.  But something about it certainly wore me down.

I punched the gantry as I walked out of the laser room for the last time.  (Something I’d had the strongest urge to do for weeks.  But usually the urge hit while the gantry was passing over me with the beam on.  It took every ounce of my willpower to keep from doing it.  The fear of moving while the beam was on and accidentally getting radiation in my eyeball was the only thing that held me back.)

I am extremely happy to be home.

I have to give a tremendous thank you to the fine folks at Circle of Peace Church of the Brethren in Peoria, AZ.  They are true to their word when they speak about the radical hospitality and extravagant generosity they aspire to create in their community.  These wonderful people took me into their homes, fed me, cared for me, watched over me and treated me like family.  I would not have made it through my extended radiation vacation without their love and kindness.

My skin is trying to heal.  I won’t post pictures because it is in the grossest stage ever right now.  (Seriously, this description is going to be gnarly.)  The skin is peeling off, just like it would if I had been sunburnt.  Except when it comes off, it’s thick and black.  Like super-dupe burnt for realsies.  It even smells like burnt flesh.  I’ve got 4 quarter sized blisters… these formed in the spots where the radiation therapists would draw X’s on my chest and then put a sticker over the mark so they could use it for days in a row without re-measuring.  Something about the tacky part of the stickers irritated the burnt skin to the point that it blistered.  The worst part is that the blisters keep splitting open.  I have to keep bandaids over them so I don’t bleed or leak blister-goo through my clothes.  (I told you… gross.)  Dr. K told me I’d be all healed up by Christmas, but I am starting to doubt him.

It’s okay, though.  I’m so happy to be done with treatment that it just doesn’t matter much.

I won’t know for sure until they do scans in 6 months, but it is possible that they’ve gotten it all.

Keeping my hopes up.

End cancer chapter 20.



3 Responses to “Radiation Vacation Ending”

  1. Brenda Swindall Says:

    Gwen, I’m glad that you are back with your support group. Praying that your six months scan will show cancer all gone.

  2. Tara W Says:

    Boo Ya! You did it. That’s all that matters. I love you.

  3. Marcia Shaver Says:

    I know that your New Year is going to be great. YOu have showed so much courage through this and I am sorry that you have to endure this last part. Bless you and have a great Christmas.

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