I just realized what today is. (Today, meaning September 10th.)
It's the two year anniversary of my last day of radiation treatments. Happy Anniversary to me!
It has been exactly two years since I had to go into a room marked with biohazard warnings, and pull my shirt up (and my pants down) so they could get laser-on-skin for the full treatment area. It has been two years since I've had the tattoos on my stomach lined up with red lights coming from every corner of the room. It has been two years since I've felt the vibrations of the radiation machine moving around me while I concentrated on being completely and utterly still for 10-15 minutes while they shot poison into my body, lest I breathe wrong and they hit me somewhere that they shouldn't have.
(I'll tell you right now that I had some pretty excellent Nathan Fillion fantasies play out in my head while I was lying there. Listen, a girl has to have something to think about when she's been abandoned and left for near-dead in a biohazard contaminate room...)
In about 10 weeks, it will have been two years since I would lie on my couch and think that I would rather die than try to take a deep breath. 'Round about the first week in November, it will be two years since I involuntarily screamed, due to the insane amount of residual pain associated with the radiation burns.
In the two years since I finished six weeks of radiation treatments, I've had three surgeries, one to remove cysts that formed on my tailbone, associated with the first abdominal surgery, and two more open, abdominal, surgeries to remove three more malignant tumors. My little (okay, not so little...) body has been through the ringer and back again.
On days like this, when I have a slight cramp in my side where my left kidney used to be (scar tissue, it's a delight and a pleasure), I think back to the days/weeks/months when all I could eat was either 4 Ritz crackers or 5 saltines at a time, and I am grateful for how far I've come. (Yes, that was an either/or diet situation. My stomach could not handle more food than that at a time, for months. ... When people joke about what a great weight loss plan cancer is, I want to punch them in the face.)
I may be a little sore and achy, but I'm not fighting nausea 24 hours a day anymore. I may have a cramp in my side, but I don't have the constant, shooting pains that I was living with two years ago.
I hated radiation. Hated it. ... I did it, because I had been told that it would give me 25% less chance at a recurrence. But I hated it. I hated the daily drive to the treatment center. I hated lying on the table, waiting for what was coming, knowing that the techs who positioned me on the table would have to leave the room to give the treatment, because the laser beams that flew through my body were toxic, and they couldn't risk getting caught in the line of fire. I hated the sudden surge in (what was already constant) nausea that would hit 40 minutes after treatment every day. I hated the weekly weigh-ins, and the lecture I would get for losing between 4 and 8 pounds every week. I hated having to defend how my body was reacting to a doctor who hadn't expected the side effects to be that extreme. Radiation was horrible. I hated it. ... Even now, I can't let myself think about it for too long, because my body starts to remember what all of that felt like, and I can't help but cry.
Radiation was hard. It may have given me a 25% leg-up, it may not have. I'll never know for sure. What I do know is that it was so hard and so painful that it's put so many other things into perspective, and for that, I am grateful.
And today, it has been two years since it was over, which merits a celebratory piece of Nothing Bundt. (I told you back in June that I was freezing that dang cake, because I knew I'd want/need it later. Today is that day.)
Happy Anniversary, Body! (The good news is, you'll never have to do THAT form of radiation again. Ever!) Now, I'm off to have a little chocolate-chocolate-chip-with-cream-cheese-icing nightcap... Because that's how I roll.