I finished the third week of radiation. My skin is “pinking up”. It is beginning to look like I have a sunburn. The skin is very tender and the pressure of the seat belt is uncomfortable against me. The area where the lymph nodes were removed is the most sensitive to touch. I have been able to use my lunch hour for treatments thus avoiding too many sick days from work. I nap most days after work and go to bed early. I am grateful I only have treatment five days of the week. My body gets a rest from the radiation and driving on the weekend.
Since starting radiation I have thought a lot about a co-worker who lost her battle with breast cancer three years ago. Shirley didn’t talk much about her radiation treatments except to mention how hard the table was. Like me, Shirley had lost her spouse and lived alone. We both would come to work early and had time to chat. I would walk by her room each day and say, “Good morning, Shirl.” She would respond in kind. However, some days the happy lilt in her voice would be gone. I would back up a few steps, enter her room and ask if she was ok. One look at her tear filled eyes would answer my question. My friend had pain. Often she would ask me to rub ointment on the tender radiated areas of her body that she could not reach. Other times, she just wanted me to pray with her. I would close her office door, stand behind her chair and place my hands on her shoulders then pray for God’s comfort, strength and peace to fall upon her. With tears glistening in our eyes we would hug each other. We both knew her time on earth was limited. In the end the only thing besides pray that I could do for my dear friend was rub her feet with lotion and cool her feverish body with cloths dipped in ice water. I think of Shirley on the anniversary of her death each August and in September on her birthday. I miss her robust laughter and I am grateful she enriched my life.
I do not think that I will completely lose my fingernails as I originally thought. Although two thirds have lifted and are loose about one third of each nail has not lifted and there is pink healthy looking tissue underneath. My nails have five ridges on them and I suspect when they grow a little more a sixth ridge may appear. The ridges on my nails feel like an old washboard. I wonder if they represent each chemo treatment that I had. I still might lose my big toenails since there is no pink tissue yet but I am singing thanks for my fingernails.
My appetite is back and my hair is also making a re-appearance. At first only gray hair came in but now dark brown hair is emerging also. It is very soft and fine in texture like baby hair. I will be sporting a “salt and pepper” look. That is one more thing I have to be grateful for; hair of any color. In a few months I might be saying goodbye to my black Fedora hat that has adorned my baldhead. Woo Hoo!
I spent the last two weekends with good friends and family. My immediate family celebrated October birthdays at P.F. Chang’s restaurant. We returned to Todd’s house for apple crisp and ice cream. Lolly’s brother and his wife also joined us for dessert. Also, last weekend two special friends from Baker City came to visit and this week one of my dear Parma friends came. Of all the things I like to do, spending time with family and friends rank at the top of my list. These have been great times. I am blessed.