Penny’s Blog

Stick a fork in me

Posted on: March 27, 2009

I’m done, I’m done, I’m done I’m done I’m done. Yesterday was my last radiation treatment.  I brought home the custom-fitted radiation mask, threw out my parking permit, and disabled the daily 2:45 alarm on my Blackberry.

Yes, the side effects have been horrible lately, but the time spent at the radiology clinic was remarkably pleasant.  There were no needles, no sickening smells, and no queasiness… and there was a lot of pleasant human interaction.   I’ll miss the familiar faces and friendly conversations in the waiting room. I’ll miss Talisha and Traci and the groovy nurses, PA, and receptionists.

So now I enter that weird post-treatment phase that I’ve heard other cancer survivors talk about.  (I guess I’m now a “cancer survivor,” too—no longer a cancer patient.)  Being released from the slog of treatments is a relief… but it also means losing frequent encouragement and concern of medical staff, talking and commiserating with other cancer patients, a clear set of directions and expectations, and the structure that treatment schedules create in your life.  After all these months in head-down, let’s-just-get-through-this mode, I now lift up my fuzzy head and see a very blank-looking future.

I realize that “What do I do with my new life?” is a lot nicer problem to deal with than “How do I face my impending death?”   But it looks like I’m going to need just as much help adjusting to this change as I did adjusting to the cancer diagnosis.

At Sole Sisters this week I talked with a woman who’d survived breast cancer and, later, ovarian cancer.  She talked about full recovery taking many months.  She said, “A year from now you’re going to feel really good, and you’ll realize, ‘Wow! This is how I used to feel all the time.’ When you’re sick and healing you get so used to feeling tired, you forget what normal was.”  I know she’s right, that what I consider pretty good right now is not even close to how good I’m going to feel six months from now.  I’m really looking forward to that.

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6 Responses to "Stick a fork in me"

and let the people say: “woo-hoo!”

Just keep on keepin’ on.

How are the worms?

Yay!!!!!!!

Way to go, Penny!!!!!
Thanks for the gift of your blog. And here’s to life.

Congratulations, bless your heart and your fuzzy head. One step at a time and you’ll wake up one morning and realize you’ve returned to “normal,” though probably profoundly changed in ways that may enhance the rest of your life. I hope so.

Hi Penny, well done on this and well done too on realising that this can be a weird time as you say. Finishing treament can be a very unsettling time for a lot of people. You can feel cut adrift and alone – once the hectic round of hospital visits, treatment and check ups are over, what then? Often this is when the real psychological and emotional work starts. I have written quite a bit on this subject on my own blog as it was something I needed to figure out for myself after I finished my own treatment. I call it the now what phase. Wishing you continued wellness on your healing journey http://beyondbreastcancer.wordpress.com/about/

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  • None
  • dswope: I just happened by after my I received an email from a close colegue that he was headig for IVPalooza. All I knew was that it was a form of chemo.
  • Brian: Hi Penny; When I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma I found your site. Reading about what you went through was incredibly helpful to me. Tha
  • Tricia: Still here; still caring; still rooting you on!

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