“Mommy, I won’t ever leave you,” my baby declared, flush with pride after making me laugh with his costume, fishing rod over his shoulder like a hobo’s pack he’d seen in a book.
I smiled, swallowing the words any mother would say, pulling him closer to me with a huge hug that would hide my scared face from his four year old eyes.
I missed a verse in the last entry, and I wondered whether to edit the post and put it back in, whether modifying yesterday’s truth to be truthier actually invalidated the thoughts of the day, but I decided at last to just put it here:
I am in pain, I said to the radiation oncologist,
- And she said let’s burn the tumors off your hips, bringing you comfort as you wait for the chemotherapy to work on the disease.
Today is the day. All last week was spent going back and forth to the hospital, or hospitals, I should say, as we went to both nationally certified cancer centers in the D.C. area. We spent the week hugging our children and then going off to that sterile white world, hand in hand, consulting with radiation oncologists, taking tests, swallowing contrast, and having radioactive isotopes injected through my port. And of course all of the details that come with that. But today’s the day.
Today I go to the hospital for my first radiation therapy appointment intended not to sear the skin and stop the cancer from coming back, but instead intended to burn off the cancer cells already implanted firmly in my hips, the ones that make it difficult to walk and painful — so painful — to sit at the dinner table, at my desk, or at my children’s side in the playroom. I am hopeful that this pallative radiation therapy will help me, will take away some of my pain, so that I can live more fully again while we wait for the chemotherapy to take its course, to reduce the cancer burden in my neck, my ribs, my spine, and my hips, and for me to be healed partially or completely — this will help me to live.
This is a step forward. And I have three tiny new tattoos on my hips to prove it, emblems of the fight as much as the seven on my chest, and I will go forth in battle today, fighting not for more months or years, but fighting today for quality of life.
One step forward.