Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Bye Bye RadiAtion

Yesterday was my last day of RadiAtion treatment.  I shuffled everyday for ten days at 9:45 am into the Cancer Center; changed into a gown, locked my stuff up with a key in a rectangular cubby, flipped through an Oprah magazine and then got zapped.  The staff on the Garden Level of the Cancer Center - the people who check you in, the people who line you up on the radiAtion table - are awesome. I will actually miss them and will probably stop down to say hello to them. Compared to my experience at the nameless Hospital, The Cancer Center has been a five star hotel.  (Not that I've ever even stayed at a five star hotel, but. . .)
The Providence Cancer Center has nice lighting.  There are no buzzing fluorescent lights, only soft lighting and table lamps in the waiting rooms.  
There is a library where you can check out books or cds (from music to guided meditation to kids' books to cookbooks to books specific to your cancer), get free information, use the Internet, and look through donated hats.  
Support Services offers free counseling and support groups.  Integrative Medicine offers Naturopathic doctors, acupuncture and massage.  
But most importantly, the people who work here are nice.  And seemingly trained well.  If they are short staffed, (and they are sometimes, probably most of the time- who isn't?) they do not take it out on you.
That is my plug for Providence Cancer Center in Portland.  Also, I said I would be more uplifting in this entry so there you go.
Back to ending RadiAtion.  Yey!  You might think that zap zap and zap - it's all gone, but that's not how it works.  More like zap and the tumor blows up and the cells inflame as they die, so the pain worsens at first and the actual benefits of the radiAtion can take a couple months to see and feel.  So my back hurts a little worse than before.  But one thing I have noticed lately is that my chest doesn't feel like it is going to crack open when I sneeze anymore.  It doesn't even hurt when I sneeze now.  And I've been afraid to sneeze for about two months, so it's nice to not get panicky and try-really-hard-not-to-sneeze-when-I-have-to anymore.
Tomorrow at noon I have a CT scan to evaluate how well the chemOtherapy is working.  Although I do hope it is working and that the scan confirms this, I will not be discouraged if there is a different outcome. My dad has helped me by researching a Plan B (involving immunotherapy) that we will use if Plan A does not work.  Today I talked with Dr. B about plan B and after photocopying an article my dad had researched - specific to metastasized cervical cancer and immunotherapy - he let me know that Providence Cancer Center does a lot of work with immunotherapy and that he would help me find a clinical trial should the need arise. 
And peeps, I also have a Plan C - which may involve the Kushi Institute for Macrobiotics or the Hippocrates Institute or some other alternative healing crazy miracle working I can't believe that worked kind of place.
But for now, let's hope the chemO is doing it's job.  And let's say thanks to the radiAtion for doing such good work blasting away my "large mass."  Bye bye radiAtion.  It's been super swell.


  1. "A girl with a plan"... three plans, actually. Sounds good. Congratulations, Julie, on your completion of RadiAtion! You are focusing much more on the positive than you realize. The one, true, candid review of your experience last year was a daunting reality check on what you've actually been through. Your descriptions of the good people and places bring peace to all of us who you have invited to share your life. Don't hold back if you have a "bad day" or feel pissed off at some unprofessional health worker. Every profession has its slackers. Feel free to let it out as it is for you. We can handle it, that's what we're here for, right? I'm overjoyed you can sneeze again freely. My advanced knowledge of medical issues leads me to conclude that the ability to sneeze is a very good sign. Sneezing is such a euphoric ... release... in my humble opinion. Imperative for peace of mind; clears the head, so to speak.
    All good things for tomorrow's news, Julie. May the healing light continue to shine on you...love and peace, Nancy

  2. Julie- Great news. I am happy to hear that you are ready to take the next step in your journey of healing. I am praying for you and your family and sending more healing vibes your way!

  3. horray for the end of radiation!! stay positive, julie! i pray for you everyday!!!