Monday, October 16, 2006

Anniversary of Trial by Fire

As many of you know, I have an uncanny capacity for remembering dates (no, not like the hot date I was one last week with AAM, although, who can forget…), you know, the anniversary kind, the marking time kind, the something important happened here kind. For example: out of no where I will get what I call “birthday radar”. I know it is someone’s birthday, I just can’t remember whose yet (tragically the “who” often comes to me the next day, when it is less exciting to surprise someone with a Happy (belated) Birthday – although I am starting to lose the surprise edge, with people coming to know I have this weird gift). Back to the point. Sometimes it is my brain that remembers, sometimes my heart and sometimes my gut.

Similar to my Diagnosis Anniversary, I am grateful to report that today it was my head that is reminding me that this is the 5 year anniversary of my starting 19 rounds of radiation. I say I am grateful for this because it was often a more dramatic and less comfortable time when it is my gut that remembers. Grateful also because this head recollection instead of a body memory demonstrates to me, AGAIN, that I really am getting farther and farther away. I really am a survivor instead of a patient. I really, really am ALIVE. So hurray. And still, there is something here, and I want to honour it.

The honouring comes in the form of remembering it. The day itself, the experience in general, and just what radiation was all about for me. In some ways radiation was the most uncomfortable of the Triple Crown of Cancer (apart from the biopsy, which, as I have been known to say both often and LOUDLY, was just plain violent). What made it so creepy was that it had to happen all alone. Now I am not so great at alone on a good day. I like my friends. I like company. Life is more fun that way. For me anyway. Wasn’t it Pooh that said “It's so much friendlier with two”? While I am not a bear, and I probably have more brain than is good for me, I do have to agree. So when all the people in the white coats leave the room, and all the friends that came with you leave the room, and you realize they are leaving because what you are about to do is just so darn hard on the body that they want a huge cement wall between themselves and the equipment that you are getting intimate with, well, it is not a happy moment.

So there I was, lying on the table, feeling naked (which I was) and alone (which I was), wondering why I was doing this (which I was). And it starts. At least the humming, buzzing thing starts, which I assume means the Trial by Fire starts too. It is an eerie noise. Like a swarm of bees, or a loose overhead electric wire snaking around the ground, waiting to find it’s prey. Haunting, really. And it sort of winds its way into your body, infiltrating your defenses. Slipping past cell walls. Echoing through your mind. And what makes it worse (yes, it gets worse, imagine that), is that you aren’t suppose to breathe during this. Just sit there and hold your breath. So all that yoga and meditation preparation, well, how am I supposed to use that now? Holding my breath, I mean really! All that said here is the improvement over 50 years ago. It only lasts for 1.5 minutes. When it used to last for 45 minutes, ON EACH SIDE (don’t even start me on that rant). And here was the most disturbing part of all, and I do get that I am very kinesthetic and body centric, so many other people don’t go through this… but what happened for me is that I could feel my skin and then my breast heat up. That’s right; it got hot with the radiation entering it. Frying it. Killing off the cells. All the cells, not just the cancer cells, but all of the cells, I mean why be discriminating at this stage, that is what Chemotherapy (sort of) was for, right? That night I lay in my partner’s arms, weeping uncontrollably. Not even able to fully describe the pain or the problem. Words had escaped me; maybe they too had been burned off by the rays. It was a very hard day.

Luckily, me being undaunted by the effort and tragedy of it, and being committed to my body and my process entirely, found solutions that worked for me. I bought an Ohm CD, and used it to drown out the noise of the buzz, playing it throughout my time in the white cement room. I also came to picture my dear friends and support people surrounding me in that room. I would see them, standing there, around me, holding hands and beaming smiles of love at me, filling me with faith and joy and wonder. And the heat, how did I deal with that. My dear friend Rhiannon would walk me through a visualization of fresh, crisp snow falling onto my uplifted face, cooling my skin, cooling my breast, cooling my crazy mind. Was it easy? No. Did I live through it? Yes. What more can I ask?


At 7:49 AM PDT, Blogger Darran Frisby said...

Great learning...great lady!

Have missed your posts, good to see you back~

At 10:10 PM PDT, Blogger Signy said...

Thanks, and so sweet of you to keep checking in regularly!


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