Yes, I only have two radiation treatments left. Two! That’s amazing to me. This seven-month journey is almost over. I started the “boost” radiation treatments on Wednesday, and I have two more of those, so on Tuesday, April 24th at around 10 AM, I’ll record my last treatment. How good it feels to type that!
Because the radiation is now focused on two much smaller areas and directly treats only the tumor area from each side, my skin is healing in the other radiated places, especially the tape burn wounds. They’re much less painful and are healing more each day. And after Tuesday, my body is through with being assaulted by chemo or surgery or radiation and can now heal completely. The body really is a miracle. I’ve found it hard to believe what my body – what I – can endure. I just imagine what my body can do when it finally rids itself of all chemo chemicals and surgery and radiation effects. I’m grateful that I can be poisoned and cut and burned and still breathe and move and appreciate life.
This is the sign I’ve walked past every day of my radiation therapy. Of course, it makes me wonder a tiny bit about the long-term effects of being radiated 33 times, but I’m learning not to worry about some unknown future. Having cancer has helped me to let go of many of my anxieties. So much of life is outside my control. No one would choose cancer, but it has been the supreme teacher for me. I don’t look back and wish I’d never had it. I no longer spend so much time trying to control my future. I don’t know what’s in store for me, and that realization and acknowledgement helps me to live in the Now much more easily. I’ve read that many cancer survivors have depression after they finish their treatments. I realize that’s a possibility for me, but rather than try to avoid or escape being down and depressed, if that comes, I want to sit with it and feel it – and then let it go. Just as I’m doing now with the happiness of finishing treatments.
I’m learning not to hold on to anything. Not even what I consider to be “good.” Everything changes. Nothing remains stagnant. That is how life and death work. Whatever I have now is for now. Trying to hold it won’t keep it with me, whether it’s pain or an emotion or a flower or a relationship. This lily that joined the roses booming on a rainy morning outside the Fuller Cancer Clinic is probably not blooming right now as I type, but it was beautiful when I took this photo. It didn’t worry about the future of its life or whether the weather was too warm for this time of year. It just bloomed. That’s how I’m trying to live now. Bloom when it’s time, whether it’s sunny or rainy or windy or cold.
I have only two more treatments – and roses and lilies are blooming now. What’s my future beyond this time and place? I don’t know. And that’s as it should be. As it is. So I enjoy spring and being almost through with breast cancer treatments and looking at a trip to New England next month. And I know that all I have is Now. I can plan a future but not be attached to how it evolves. I can be present in the moment. And I can look at lilies and roses and raindrops and appreciate what they freely share. They are my teachers, just as cancer has been. I’m still learning. And I enjoy beauty and finishing cancer treatments but don’t hold on to any of it. I’m happy now – in the now. And am grateful.