Wednesday, August 10, 2016

A New Mission Field: Radiation Treatment Room

So, for those of you lucky enough to never need radiation therapy, here is your chance to know what it is like. I was so scared all morning yesterday, prior to my first treatment session. I worked on the pastel at the top of this blog to keep my mind off the torture I was certain I would have to endure. I also started the sequel to my latest new novel. I am so grateful I have a creative mind that can take me places that are so much more pleasant than my reality.

I was petrified as I changed into my gown, and sat down to await my fate. I was certain the machine would malfunction and I would be burned to a crisp. They came to get me, and I notified them immediately that I was very scared. They assured me there was nothing to be afraid of.

"Fine...then let's trade places, shall we?" Surprise, surprise, no takers on my offer.

They positioned me on the bed of torture and offered a washcloth to put over my eyes.
"No thanks, I am fine."
Stupid, stupid, stupid. Always take whatever comfort is offered.

The lights that come on last a long time and you can see them through your (clenched tightly shut) eyelids. Sometimes they are bright blood red, and seep into all the cracks in your brain. Sometimes they are neon green, and feel like a drug flashback. Sometimes, they pulse unexpectedly just when you can no longer stand to squeeze your eyes shut a moment longer, and you see they are still there, lurking a little lower, but they find your vulnerable eyeball and blind you.

They told me I would only be on the table ten minutes tops, and the treatment itself (a.k.a. dangerous radiation) lasts only a minute or two. I was on the table 45 minutes. NO LIE. I was thinking it was the LONGEST ten minutes I had ever lived through, but I had just prayed that morning that God would not let me wish my life away by wanting terrible things to happen quickly so I could just get them over with.

I got my wish.

It turns out, despite my vague sense throughout that I was being slowly fried like an egg, most of the time was just them waiting through a computer glitch, and then the doctor being on the phone and unavailable. So all those endless minutes while I was envisioning my skin being slowly grilled, nothing was going on except the technicians chatting and sipping coffee in the safe room. I suspect they were playing with those excruciatingly bright light switches just to mess with me.

I could have sworn I felt soldering irons burning through my bones. Nope. TOTALLY my imagination. This is the danger of a creative mind. So after enduring 40 minutes of sheer terror, thinking I would not live even though it did not hurt at all...they came back in and told me they were now ready to START the treatment.


And no offers of washcloths over my eyes this time, which I would have killed my grandmother for, if she were still alive. Which she is not.

When they came back after the treatment, they told me I could now go. I sat up shakily. I told them I felt a tightness in my chest skin. They laughed, politely, and told me I would not feel or see any skin changes for a couple of weeks. The tightness was from holding my arm in the outstretched position for so long, which they apologized for. It would go much smoother and faster from now on.

I returned to the changing room where I met a couple of other women who are old pros at radiation. They were finishing their several weeks of treatment, and assured me, they had had no problems whatsoever. One even showed me her breast, which looked a little red, like a minor sunburn, but that was all.

She was quite social, and soon was telling me about her horses.
"Horses!" I said, "I love horses!! I am an author and I write books about horses!"
(Perhaps you haven't heard about my latest book and didn't know it is GREAT and you should order it right now, HERE: Consider it a charitable donation to curing cancer...mine.

She asked for my business card (which I happened to have with me) and I think I made a sale. You never know what benefits might come from radiation.

Fortunately, I had lots of opportunities to share my faith.
"Is there anything I can get you?"
"No, I'll just pray...."

"Would you like to listen to music while you are on the table?"
"Yes, Christian music if you have it."

"Did you have to get chemo?"
" was a miracle. They were certain I would, but praise God, I was spared that."

One of my cancer survivor friends told me radiation would be an opportunity to have a new mission field. She was right. It gave me a sense of purpose in the midst of all that fear.

As I left, I felt like a new woman. I had done it. I had survived my first radiation treatment.

Mark 16:15 

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

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