Wednesday, April 25, 2012

C'est Fini! (kindof)

Voila: Le radiation mask! My Cancer land souvenir! Yesterday a friend hilariously suggested that I go out for Halloween this year as "Cancer". I could wear this mask, a white lab coat and wheel around an IV stand - ha! Anyway that really is me under there believe it or not.

Here mask is telling me that she's not so sure the Halloween get up is the greatest idea. What EV!

(insert the dancing monkeys here)

Today has been my first day of life without treatment in the foreseeable future. It's hard to describe what this feels like. I've been vacillating between not really truly believing it, and feeling like suddenly I'm on the best vacation ever. It's pretty unreal.

It's true what they say...radiation is a breeze in comparison with chemo. Very little side effects, no waiting, in and out. Downsides were having to go into the hospital everyday....but really - it was no biggie. I also got to spend time with my sister and family. It was awesome having some solid time with my niece and nephew. On the day of my last treatment Jonah (4) asked me if I was "done my cancer". Yes, little man, yes indeedy.

I have already launched into a full scale detox to try and give my body a chance to recuperate from getting bulldozed by a ton of toxic chemicals and radiation. Welcome to the spa of Julia. Where we eat enough green vegetables to sink a ship, refrain from any and all animal products, and kiss the Java and the snickers bar good-bye. Soy far soy good.  ;)

So the dreaded question for me right now is this one: What next??
You'd be surprised how often one gets asked this question upon the end of cancer treatment. I do understand how this seems to be a logical question. It's also the kind of question someone asks who clearly has never been through the kind of traumatic experience that turns your life a bit upside-down and causes you to question almost everything in it. (Either that or they spend a good portion of their lives in a significant state of emotional denial). I'm sure there are those who finish treatment, and it's right back to 'life as usual', but to be totally frank...I don't get that. So you won't be hearing " page turned, book closed, onward and upward, full steam ahead!!!" from me. I don't even know what that means for me anymore. I'm also an artist, so answering this question is hard at the best of times. Let alone after the big 'C'.
So here is the current Julia answer to that question. Note that this answer can change minute to minute:
What Next?
-I will get out of bed before noon. (if I feel like it!)
-I will drink plenty of water.
-I plan on eating lots of green veggies.
-I will go for walks.
-I will visit friends (when I feel like it)
-I plan on making soy lattes before bed!
-I plan on petting  the cat.
-I will rub my head and revel in the new growth.
-when fear of the future panic sets in I plan on stopping the mind circus and taking  a deep breathe.
-I plan on reading good books
-I will give myself permission to dream again.

So yeah. That is what's next.  I'll be taking my time with the whole recovery thang.

I also wanted to mention before signing off that I am THRILLED about my hair finally starting to grow back, even though it is slightly babyduck-ish. I also have eyebrows coming back in as well as eye lashes! You can't even imagine how exciting this is for me.

That's all for now. Huge thank you for all the support. I'll continue to post how things are going.
Big Love,
Your cancer free friend,

Friday, April 13, 2012

Cindy Lauper and radiation

The above statement is so true. I had just such an awkward moment this week during one of my radiation appointments.

First let me set the scene. Every day I go into the radiation area, take off my clothes and put on the hospital gown and sit and wait till I'm called for my appointment. Then I am escorted into the radiation room where I lie on a glass table while the technicians put a mesh plastic mask over my head which is then nailed onto the glass table in order to limit my movement. The technicians then manipulate my body and make sure it is lined up properly with the machine which delivers the radiation beam. When they are satisfied they leave the room. I then hear a loud beep which lets me know that the radiation is happening. Then the glass table I am lying on is raised about 6 feet in the air while the machine moves around to my back where I get another beam of radiation. This whole process usually takes a total 15 minutes.

On this particular day, after the technician placed the mask over my face and head, and nailed it down to the table I happened to catch a glimpse of myself reflected back to me in the radiation machine glass which was directly above me. I was taken aback as I really did look like something straight out of a horror flick. I wish I could accurately describe what I looked like, and my subsequent a friend said - it was a very "silence of the lambs" moment. Now I should mention that in the radiation room they play easy listening hit radio. Anyway, on this particular day, when the technicians left the room and I heard the ' beep' declaring radiation officially on, in the exact same moment I suddenly heard Cindy Lauper, with a sudden leap in radio volume, blaring:

"GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FU-UN...OH GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUUUN...thats all they really waaaant....some fuuuun..."

I have to say that it was in that moment, as much as any other on this weird journey, that the absolute absurdity of my situation really sunk in. And I think I laughed out loud. Even though a tiny part of me felt a bit like crying. A minute later the technician came back in humming along with Cindi Lauper very un-selfconciously to herself as she lowered the table I was nailed to back down to the ground. As she removed my mask she asked me if I had any plans for the afternoon, we chatted for a minute then I went on my way thinking about the awkward irony and slight hilarity of it all.

On my way out I passed by 3 women in a radiation waiting room comparing chemo war stories with each other while perusing 'Canadian Living' magazines. There is something soothing about those conversations....the knowing looks and "mmm-hmm" are the truest sounds in situations like that. I almost wanted to join them, but walked out of the building instead, into the blazing sun.

Yes dear Cindy, girls do just wanna have fun. But some get radiated instead.