Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Last Day of Radiation

Wednesday morning was Thomas's last round of radiation therapy. I told a couple friends today and they said, "Really? It seems like you've just started," but in cancer world, time runs differently. This last six weeks took six years. It ate my lunch. It ate my husband's job. It took some noticeable bites out of the car.* But it's over and done and ...for right now, that's it for cancer.

There are more check-ups to come, of course, and lots of work on his secondary issues - feeds, the trach. We will have regular MRIs from now on, to see that the tumor isn't returning.

It might. The type of tumor Thomas had likes to come back, and we saw that it was aggressively doing that in August. We lucked out in August, beating the recurrence, and radiation gives us a very good chance of continuing with luck.

Either way, I think we will go in grace.

We've had the chance to reflect this week on our journey this year, and on the people who have accompanied us. And even though we are standing on the scary edge of a cliff that we could be thrown off of again at any time, our hearts are full.

A long time ago, a very dear friend of mine lost his son. I attended the viewing, and my friend ended up having to say nice things to me, to try and help me hold it together. I have always assumed that that moment proved all my worst fears about myself; that I really truly can make anything about me and that I am probably definitely going to the Hell of Bad Friends.

That might be true. If not for that then for some other offense. But I know this, now: I will never forget the tears our friends and family cried for Thomas. Even the ones that others did a better job of hiding than I did. Those tears do nothing for us, they are not oil on our heads or balm in our wounds but I will never, ever forget.

This is by no means the end of our story, even our cancer story, and I will keep writing here to fill you in. In fact, on a lighter note, tomorrow I hope to have a picture of Thomas with his favorite doc (we of course don't have favorites, but for T there's a clear winner). But it seems like, for better or worse, we've closed Book One and are on to new adventures. Also coming this week, The All-Purpose "Hah!"

*Let's just say I don't drive well sleepy

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At 11:08 PM, Anonymous Aunt Kaitlin said...

thomas, you are still my hero and you have the sweetest mom and dad in all the world who love with all that they've got in the best way they know how.

congratulations, sweet boy, on the completion of book one.

aunt kait

At 1:15 AM, Blogger gracie said...

"Those tears do nothing for us, they are not oil on our heads or balm in our wounds but I will never, ever forget."

Just wondered... I have friends whose child is dying of cancer... and I am desperate to know what would be a balm... what oil can I give???

I'm so glad Thomas is so well!

At 9:54 AM, Blogger Thomas, as told to Sarah said...

There just isn't anything you can put in that kind of wound that won't sting.

A woman who had lost her daughter wrote a great essay in Oprah magazine about this - I can't find the issue or anything on it but I remember this - people would try to identify with the couple's grief, by talking about when their parent or sibling or even a pet died.

The author's husband said, "When you father died, did you wish it was you instead? A year later, did you feel the same way?"

I just don't think there are words. Thomas is alive and well and I can't presume to speak for people who are certain that they are going to lose the fight or who have, but ...

Maybe "I love you, I'm praying for you, I think of you all often." I think there is showing up in the hospital, hand holding, bringing food to the house, sticking around or calling often, so that they don't have to catch you up too much on the latest medical news.

That last one's probably been the biggest thing for us. That and just following our lead - there are going to be moments of levity and moments of bone-crushing grief, and for us, they break out so fast we can't see them coming. It's good to have people who are ok with whatever part of the roller coaster we're on, who aren't trying to lead us to cheer up or to take this more seriously.

Fortunately, our friends already think we're nuts. They're used to going with the flow.


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