Today I was awarded a certificate of completion after my 32nd radiation treatment. Another leg of my journey has come to an end. I’m relieved and exhausted and scared that this will only be a temporary end and exhausted and a little weepy and grateful.
I don’t wish cancer on anyone but if you ever find yourself in need of radiation treatments I wholeheartedly recommend the fine folks of Cooper University Hospital’s Radiation Oncology department. I wish for you the warmth and kindness and optimism and sunny attitudes I experienced during my treatments. I couldn’t have asked to be in better hands. My last day came with hugs and kind wishes and fond farewells.
I had dad and Chuck with me today so dad dropped Chuck off at his office on our way home from the hospital. When we arrived at my parents’ house mom and dad ran out to take care of a few errands. I woke up feeling pretty exhausted and a little flu-ish so I took this opportunity to nap for an hour or two. When mom and dad arrived back at home they did so with a bouquet of balloons from the party store. Anyone who knows me knows that I love balloons. Even better the balloons were tied to a Hello Kitty weight :-)
This just made my day. A few hours later my brother called to say hi and in the morning before my treatments my cousin Tina texted to celebrate my last day with me and before that my sister-in-law Arlene posted good wishes on Facebook. This terrifying and exhausting journey has been made all the more easier and so much less frightening by the love and support and comfort my family and friends have provided.
Chuck and I couldn’t have made it through this time without you all. Every Monday and Friday Chuck accompanied me to my treatments and took Fridays off to be there when I saw my Oncologist most weeks and to give me a respite from the daily stress and anxiety of my day-to-day schedule. Every Tuesday and Thursday dad met me at the hospital and stayed with me so Chuck could get to work at a relatively decent hour. Every Wednesday my brother Tommy picked me up from the hospital so Chuck could arrive at work at a decent hour another day during the week. Of course Tommy works so his weekly pick ups came at the expense of him arriving at work late.
My parents took me in every day and gave me lunch. This is no small feat for my 77-year-old parents who live on their social security and pension checks not to mention the upset to their daily lives that my treatments caused.
In addition to my family’s pitching in and helping out we also couldn’t have made it through this experience without Chuck’s amazing employer and kind fellow employees. I can’t begin to put into words the weight off our shoulders it was to know that his employer and coworkers are so supportive.
I know this sounds like an Academy Awards speech but really there are so many people who have and continue to help us through this journey I’d be remiss in not acknowledging their kindness. I, we at no time during this whole journey have ever found ourselves alone or needing. They say everything happens for a reason perhaps this journey has been to open my eyes to how well and truly blessed I am. I’m humbled and amazed and grateful.
I keep wanting to tell you about Chuck and what an amazing husband and human being he is. We were in the car driving to dinner on Sunday laughing and talking and I was overwhelmed with the thought how lucky I am to have someone who after all these years I still look forward to seeing every day and whose company I not only enjoy but also love. He’s truly carried the load these last almost 9 months. He’s been with me at almost every doctor appointment, he’s been with me at 15 of my 32 radiation treatments and driven me to almost every treatment, he’s cooked, cleaned, did laundry, shopped and cared for my head and held my hand all the way without a moment of irritation or annoyance. I’ve never once seen him behave like I’m a burden to him. He’s always there with a shoulder to cry on, a good attitude to cheer me on and keep me going and a supportive ear to listen to me bitch, complain and basically fall apart and lose it more than a few times. He’s given up things he’d want to have because money’s tight with my medical bills, he’s given up leisure and work time, his life has revolved around my needs and wants since last October 11th. I am blessed beyond measure to have him as my husband and companion on this journey through life. If you see him give him a hug and remind him just what a truly amazing and kind-hearted human being he is. He’s carried the burden this entire time and he definitely doesn’t give himself enough credit.
So here I find myself 260 days later, 178 days into 2011, 32 radiation treatments completed. I’m grateful, humbled, exhausted and hopeful. I don’t know if I’ve come close to accomplishing my original premise of learning to love myself just yet but I certainly am aware of just how very loved I am and how very much I love my family, friends and caretakers.
Thank you so much for stopping by every day to read. Thank you for your supportive comments and thank you for just being out there. Tomorrow starts the next leg of this journey. Please continue to keep me in your prayers. You’ve certainly moved mountains thus far.
With much love and great appreciation,
~ Carol Anne