Surviving The Fallout

So, here we are on the other side of atomic bombardment (which sounds like a terrible thing to say on September 11th, but I mean no disrespect). The last time I checked in I was sailing through my treatments and enjoying a much-needed respite in the mountains. Seems like weeks ago. The final two treatments, on Tuesday and Thursday of last week, packed the punch I hoped I was avoiding and knocked me on my besieged ass with a vengeance. So much for being a unicorn. If you’re here for the chuckles, you may want to give this post a pass.

I’ve tried, while documenting this journey here, to keep the gory details to a minimum and I will continue to do so, however, I can say that there isn’t a spot between my navel and mid-thigh that doesn’t ache. Bones, muscles, organs and soft tissues alike are wreathed in fire. It’s like Hiroshima in my guts and the overall feeling is like that of a really bad flu bug. With radiation burns.

All that’s left is for me to ride this out for a few weeks, then return in December for tests to make sure the treatments did what they were supposed to do: eradicate my dark passenger. I’m not gonna miss that bitch. And I sure as hell won’t miss the after effects of its blitzkrieg. I just hope it will all be worth the upheaval and discomfort. Staying positive is the hard part.

This little guy is one of many HUGE reasons I refuse to let this thing defeat me.

Luckily, I am surrounded by wonderful people who are going above and beyond to make this experience as tolerable as possible: my husband and his family, my own marvelous family, the understanding people we both work for, and the friends who weren’t scared off by the specter of mortality staring back at them from behind my eyes. That isn’t a note of bitterness, not at all, just a reality of this situation. I’m sure I will grieve the loss of those few friendships once this is all over, but I’ll also move on and not let it deter me from accepting the love and encouragement of others in the coming years.

To mark the end of this phase of my journey, the shamans of the Citadel had me partake of a little ceremony involving the ringing of a bell to “celebrate.” I use quotation marks here because I don’t really see it as a celebration, so much as an acknowledgement that this particular ordeal is over. I am far too pragmatic to take it as anything more. I won’t truly be celebrating until I know for sure that all traces of the gut goblin have been expunged.

The fantastic medical team who got me through this experience: Mike, Rich and Shawn. Beautiful, aren’t they?

I know that it will take years to actually know for sure, because some of the side effects of radiation don’t make themselves known right away. Among those, new cancers in other areas. The fight, once it has been engaged, is a lifetime battle and the pragmatist in me won’t ever let me forget that. Right now, I just feel depleted and a little pensive. Nothing really changed when I got the diagnosis a year and a half ago, except the awareness. Today, I feel different and the knowledge that nothing will ever be the same again weighs heavily on me.

Nothing for it but to move forward, once I’m feeling better, and continue living like there will be no tomorrow. I have movie premieres in Las Cruces (October 5) and Phoenix (October 16) to organize, a film festival to navigate (October 2 – 7) and family and friends to smile for, so they don’t worry overmuch. It’s a full plate, right now. What comes after October remains to be seen. Here in early September, however, I’m badly in need of a nap. And a bidet. A bidet would be nice…

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