Holding Space

With Shelly Vaughn


Leave a comment

Not What I Expected

I was not expecting yesterday to go the way that it did. It was my first radiation treatment and I knew it would take longer than every subsequent one. I had no idea how long it would actually take and I was not prepared for how I would feel during it.

They were running behind schedule so I waited for quite a while before it even started. While waiting, I got a lovely video from our friend to make me laugh, so I’m very thankful for that. When they were finally ready, they took me back to the table and got ready to start. It was freezing in there so they gave me warm blankets to drape over as much as they could. But my chest was exposed (obviously) for a very. long. time. I laid with my arms above my head while 2 technicians and a doctor lined me up just right with lasers and machines. They marked my body up in several spots- making adjustments with a ruler down to the millimeter. Measuring, marking, taking a film, marking again, trying to decide if I should have a custom bolus (a plastic thing they lay on top of my chest that acts as an extra layer of skin). The women were as kind as could be. But the environment was cold and sterile with fluorescent lights that make any place less comfortable. My head had to be turned at a slight angle so I couldn’t move to make eye contact when they talked to me. I don’t think I’ve ever felt like such a science project. Three women talking about my body, measurements, angles, lasers… while I laid there unable to move out of that position for an hour. I tried so hard to think of positive things- listening to the barely audible music, praying, meditating, praying more. The hardest part of it was that the machine had a reflective glass that was above my head. Without being able to turn my head from its position I couldn’t do anything but stare at the reflection… the still unfamiliar reflection of 12 inches of scars across my chest. Perfect 6 inch lines on each side. I couldn’t turn away. I couldn’t pretend they were normal. I was literally faced with my new body, with background noise of clinical jargon that didn’t make sense to me. I know I’ve said that chemo and hair loss made me feel like an alien. This was different. This made me feel inhuman. I hated it. I tried to keep a good attitude about it afterward, but it was still bothering me. Until, of course, I could have time to process it and talk about it with Rob. He made me feel better… as he always does.

I had a decent night’s sleep and felt much better today. And today’s appointment was totally fine. In and out within a half hour. Time on the table was just about 10 minutes. Short enough to keep my mind on other things and not stare at the reflection. I’m sure there’s a lesson in all of this. Maybe we all need to spend more time faced with the reflections of our least favorite part of ourselves (inside or out). Maybe it’s a reminder that this is my broken earthly body… not meant to be perfect. Or maybe it was just a really crappy evening that I should stop analyzing.  I wasn’t ready for how emotional that experience ended up being. But I’m sure ready to get these next six weeks over with.


Leave a comment

Waiting

This whole experience in healing has been such a lesson in patience. And now has been no exception. I’m STILL waiting for radiation to start. On Aug 30th they said 7-10 days for my plan to be complete and treatment to start. I’ve called them at least once a week since then and they keep saying that my plan is not ready. So I wait. I don’t really want to start- mostly because I know it means I’ll be fatigued for so long. But I also want to start so that I can finish. This is the last of the big steps of treatment and I thought I’d be halfway done with it by now. 

With this unexpected extra time of feeling halfway decent, I’ve been doing some painting around the house- the trim, the wood paneling, and the mantle. It’s keeping me busy, but it’s rewarding. More importantly, it helps me feel like I’m not “wasting time” waiting for something out of my control.
I’ll keep you all posted…


Leave a comment

21751848_10214247823574324_3125599936259801520_n

A few random things:

I’m still waiting to hear from the radiation oncologist to set up my radiation schedule. I’m not looking forward to it, but I’m also anxious to get it over with.

I’m back to work full time; and so thankful that I work with amazing people who have made the transition as good as it can be.

This picture shows how happy I am to have my port out!! My arm is still just a little swollen and tender, but it’ll feel so good once it’s back to normal.

It’s been really nice outside so I’ve been soaking in the beautiful weather, knowing it won’t last much longer. If you’re reading this and it’s nice where you are- you should really get outside and enjoy it. Even just a walk around the block will be worth it. If you’re healthy enough to go do something- do it! 


Leave a comment

Deportation Day

“Deportation Day”- it happened today and the port is OUT! I’m so happy that it’s out… and that they let me keep it! If you look at the picture- the purple part was in my arm where they injected needles for every chemo treatment (and any other time I would’ve otherwise needed an IV.) The white part is the catheter that was thread through my vein- up and around my arm then the tip rested next to my heart. The numbness from the procedure is wearing off and my arm is pretty painful so I’m done for the night. Thanks for sharing in my excitement to get this out today. 

 


Leave a comment

No More Port!

Great news- I am getting my port taken out on Friday!! This Friday! Two days from now!! I’m so excited (if you can’t tell). I had an appointment scheduled for later in the month, but they called today to bump it up earlier. I know that treatment really isn’t done until radiation. But this port was so symbolic of the beginning of treatment… and the removal of it is symbolic that the end is near. That thing was my lifeline- I hate it and I love it all at once. I’m so glad to get it out of my body. OUT!! GONE!! Along with the cancer!
(Oh- and my return to work went well today. I had an appointment in the morning so it was a shorter day than usual. It was a nice way to ease back into things. And it was really great seeing my co-workers. Seeing them meant getting hugs from friends- which was actually really energizing and uplifting. I am thankful.)


Leave a comment

Healing and Work

I am continuing to heal well from surgery while doing PT to help with range of motion of my arm and lymphatic massage (to prevent lymphedema). This last weekend was especially pleasant because I was feeling well and we were able to get out and do some activities that felt “summer-y”- a day at Hale Farm, Stow Summer festival, and a picnic with friends. I love being able to enjoy times like these and so thankful for beautiful weather to do it. Tomorrow is a big day- I return to work after being off during this medical leave. I worked through chemo, so this shouldn’t seem too bad. But for some reason, I’m feeling nervous about it. I’m going back to do work that I love and be around people who are very supportive… it’s really the best case scenario. I guess I’m just nervous about the unknown- how will I feel by the end of the day? will I have the energy to do my job well? how will my radiation schedule fit into my work/home life schedule? I guess it’s the same as every step I’ve taken so far- I don’t know what it will look like, but I know I’ll be ok. But if you feel like saying a prayer tonight it would be appreciated.
Thanks, everyone.