Saturday, September 1, 2012

Praying for a Cure

Thank God radiation therapy is over.  My last treatment was more than a week ago and I will not miss any of it except the people.  The treatment is not that bad in and of itself in the short duration of the individual treatments, it's the build up of fatigue and the breaking down of the surface of the breast tissue that wears you out over the 6 week course.  That and pain of course, but this too shall pass.

The last 5 treatments are referred to as Boosters in that they don't radiate the entire breast for the last 5, they Boost your incision with radiation which allows the rest of the breast tissue to start it's immediate healing and recovery.  That was eleven days ago and I'm happy to report a steady healing has ensued.  I am noticing what looks like the old me under severely darkened skin tissue.  The pain is subsiding but still at times during the day - it's pretty painful.  (Adding this comment a few days later - feeling very little pain actually and my skin is gorgeous again :).

As I've said in the past, I am amazed at the resilience of the human body and the constant ability to heal itself.  My body has always had the ability to recover from everything that it's endured.  It also loves to be pushed past it's comfort level with physical activity - not with surgery and sickness, but with muscle building and fitness - hey, that rhymed lol, and I cannot wait to really start to work out again and feel 'normal'.  All things in due time though, I do need a little more time.

For now I'm sitting here prayerfully contemplating all that I've been through physically, emotionally, mentally, and of course spiritually and you know what?  I'm so much stronger for all of it.  All the tears and hand wringing, all of the mistakes and wrong turn taking, all the offerings made knees bended in prayer, all that I've ever known about God, His faithfulness, quickness to forgive a repentant heart, and His guidance has all made me what I am....and what am I?  Hmmmm.

I am a much stronger, redeemed child of the Most High God, woman, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, mother (if only to all animals), lover, friend, worker, helper, servant, artist, writer, healer, teacher, mentor, horticulturist, dancer, warrior, an athlete, human being, Spirit, I am consciousness and I am love.  I am all of these things and none of these things.  I am a vapor, here today and gone tomorrow.  I am a breeze blowing over the range of the earth embracing every delicious experience, taking it in for a moment and letting it flow right through me. 

Life is truly wonderful and beautiful. 

I need only sit in silence for the shortest while to be brought back to center, focus and strength.  I need only to sit in the company of loving friends sharing laughter, ideas and creativity to know that I have many gifts and talents yet to share with the world.  I need only to hear the voice of a beloved family member to know where I come from and to whom I belong and that belonging to a family is a gift.  I need only to remember my past, my ancestors, and all of life's lessons to know that I am courageous, adaptable, more than capable and an over comer.

I am adding a new title to the 'what am I and who am I' listing.  I am now officially a cancer survivor. 

My Certificate for completing treatment.

I was given an elite membership into a club whose members are some of the most amazing people I've ever met.  It's not a membership that any of us prefers of course, but once you become a member the light that shines in and around the lives of these Saints is palpable. God's presence is found in these precious fighting hearts.

I saw Spirit everywhere, everyday.

I met a lot of survivors both men and women. One woman in particular was one of my nurses Lana!    These Nurses are very busy tending to multiple patients simultaneously and occasionally I would be treated by Lana. As we got to know one another and my breast tissue started to change (more redness and irritation) I would express my concern and speak to the her about what I needed to do to get some relief either from the irritation or the pain.  By the way, Aquaphor is an over the counter cream that I needed to apply many times a day after daily treatment.  It became something I always had on.  It is just like vaseline and while it's extremely thick, it affords a shield of moisture that the radiation is stripping you of - so go ahead and use as much as you want.  So happy to see it on my dresser unused for a week now.  But I digress...Lana, God bless her heart, shared with me that she herself was getting treatment also.  She is battling stage zero breast cancer as am I and had been getting radiation treatment at Holy Name for a few weeks before I started.

Can you imagine treating cancer patients for a living and then finding out you're going to be one? 
If I could reach out and hug Lana right now as I type these words I would for the sheer positivity that she always excuded especially considering for the most part I had no idea she was a sister warrior.  I had no idea until she told me and she only told me because she was further along in the process and knew that what  I was worried about was temporary.  She wanted to encourage me!

From the moment Lana shared with me, we shared more than a few connected glances, many hugs, a few tears and we encouraged each other on a soul level that is simply deep.  We both looked forward to seeing each other through to the other side. She along with several other women and I would forge through the radiation treatment together while some of us were undergoing chemotherapy as well.
I will never forget Lana or any of these souls for our paths have crossed on the battlefield.

Interesting to note from my experience it seems cancer patients typically do not see each other in the treatment center (unless of course you need both radiation and chemotherapy which most people need).  The treatment center spaces your appointments out so as not to really overlap. The chemotherapy patients go upstairs while the radiation patients go downstairs. I became increasingly aware of this fact and I appreciated it as well although the lump in my throat is still there for obvious reasons.

Unfortunately, I have met too many women (and men) with cancer these days - it's the guy at the gas station and the woman at the card store, it's your neighbor and best friend's Dad, it's a friend of the family and your bosses wife, the banker, the hairdresser, I mean - who hasn't been touched by this disease?

My constant and deeply heartfelt prayers go out to Holy Name Regional Cancer Center, the kind people that grace it's doors whether in health care or treatment. I pray that healing Angels continually go before all battling souls and make straight the path to wellness and ultimately help humanity find a cure.

Brave can never even come close to describing the Spirit with which this battle is fought.

God, great creator of all that is, hear my prayer.  We are all effected and afflicted if just one of us is, please in your mercy help your suffering children, wipe dry our tears, comfort our broken hearts, renew our weary minds and reveal to us the cure for cancer.  Amen.