I can’t even believe it! My last day of radiation. Something that felt like years away just a few weeks ago has happened in what seems like minutes. And being tired, being scared, feeling anxious… it’s all brought me to today when I suddenly feel a bit of pride for this rather intense accomplishment. And it’s something I couldn’t have done without all of you supporting me.
The day started with us coming back from our fourth time in San Antonio… something that’s feeling rather normal lately. As always, it was great to see Jan & Jim, relax in the tub, eat amazing food, etc. And before that we were lucky enough to see more family — Kevin, Lucy, Meg, Dominic, Mary and Tessa. We even shopped in Tessa’s newly established candy store. Jill and I had decided to spend the weekend (most of it) in Austin. It was filled with good food and a few chances to listen to great live music, along with ample time for me to relax and pick up much-needed energy. I’m still struggling with that.
Once we made it to Houston this morning we went straight to the Proton Center. And as soon as we walked in the door there were some knots in my stomach. I thought immediately about how this was my last day. As much as that was reason to celebrate, it also made me sad. A lot of the day-to-day people here had become great friends over the past six weeks. Deborah at the front desk knew me from day one and never let me leave without wishing me a great afternoon and telling me how she was excited to see me the next day. Megan, Claudia and Carolyn, the technicians that ran my machine, were becoming friends. They shared great restaurants and entertainment to check out while I was here, they made it feel comfortable to be there everyday. I now had to say goodbye. I started swallowing back my wanting to tear up.
Jill and I went downstairs to the waiting area for about 20 minutes before I was called back. I was masked, locked to the table, and the machine started. I went through the usual routine, but thought the whole time about how this was the last. And when the machine was done, I just stared at the ceiling and felt a flood of emotions. But I knew I needed to go home. I smiled a bit.
Part of the tradition at the Proton Center is ringing a gong on your last day. The girls came in when treatment finished, excited to announce that it was complete. They released my mask and brought me out the the gong. I handed them my camera. We brought Jill back to watch. I rang the gong (see the picture). And the whole time I was fighting back crying until someone said “Congratulations… It’s been so great getting to know you.” And then I just starting bawling. The little crying kid in me took over, as it sometimes does. But it felt good. I hugged them all, thanked them for what they’d done for me over the last six weeks, and finally got to walk out the door with Jill.
We headed for lunch. We ran errands. And then we started a wonderful day together. Massages, followed by an amazing dinner at an incredible restaurant with the best sister in the world. And every once in a while it would pop into my head again about how hard it was going to be to leave. I’ve gotten used to it down here. Having loved ones with me, going through treatment, knowing that it was the only way to get better.
But I’ve gotten better. So it’s time to go home. And I can’t wait to see you all.
There’s a quote etched into the marble plaque in front of the fountain I saw everyday before radiation. I find it incredibly inspiring and thought I’d share it.
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” — Henry David Thoreau
Tags: proton radiation