Before radiation began, my port was unceremoniously removed. It’s the strangest sensation, to have minor surgery while still awake. I know I felt disconnected, as if I were outside of myself but unable to watch. It seems like they had just begun working when someone said, “almost done. Just closing you up”. The procedure marked the end of the worst phase of my treatment, and the only evidence left was a small scar that even now is fading fast.
They gave me my port in a small plastic container, but I ended up tossing it.
I was optimistic, so sure, that radiation would be no big deal. And for the most part, it was. It was anticlimactic, even. I looked at it as a way to motivate me to get up and do stuff. The whole process, from backing out of the driveway to turning back into it, took forty minutes on a bad day. The fear of the process was the hardest thing to get over, and when I’d been going for a couple of weeks, I decided that I was a big crybaby.
Toward the end of treatment, though, it started to hurt.
At first, it stung in a mildly irritating way, like right after a long beach trip. Then I noticed the blisters. Then I woke up one day, and the whole thing looked like a Stephen King story. It oozed and was a shade of red that should be illegal, all in a perfectly defined square. It was beyond nasty, and now I know that Ryan is some kind of demigod sent from heaven, because he bandaged me and helped me keep it clean and didn’t ever complain.
It looks fine now. It healed very quickly. When I visited Dr. Nguyen when it was its nastiest, he told me that it actually looked good, comparatively speaking. I felt grateful that he didn’t think it looked bad, and realized that I was probably lucky. I know that I tend to have amnesia about my body and illnesses and injury, but I think radiation might have been more difficult than my mastectomy.
I met some great people in the radiation clinic. On the first day, in the waiting room, was a man with an autoharp. He was playing it and singing. I watched him, and thought about taking his picture, but decided it would be rude. I didn’t get to find out if he was a patient or family member because I was summoned into the office.
The next day, I saw him again, leaving the office, with his arm around a lady, who was carrying a rose and a certificate. It was her last day. The image of them, walking arm and arm, into a new beginning, made me tear up a little.