It’s done, it’s done, it’s done. My 20 sessions of Radiotherapy are complete and tomorrow we don’t have to take a 3 hour chunk out of our day to drive to Oxford to the Churchill Hospital. That will be a genuinely lovely feeling.
It’s a very strange feeling also as you complete an active phase and then start moving towards your next appointments and scans etc. I remain impressed at the awareness of these transitions from the medical teams who look after you. Today’s session was indeed my last zapping and the Therapeutic Radiographers who have been consistently looking after me, asking how things are, checking my reactions to the radiation and generally looking out for my welfare were alongside me again making sure that my tattoos lined up with the beams and that the coverage of the radiation was heading exactly where it should.
Each and every one of my 20 sessions have involved that precision positioning and on the days when it was a few millimetres out we’d start again, sometimes giving me the opportunity to shake my arms out to get the blood circulating again as the pins and needles set in. Yesterday in fact, the positioning was taking a little longer than normal and I loved the fact that I was told ‘We’re going to start positioning you again Rosemary as we’re really fussy here and want to get it exactly right’. You can’t ask for more than that can you; people on your side.
I’ve mentioned before that at times it’s quite sobering sitting in the waiting area and certainly sharpens your perspective on life. You quickly realise that the small stuff that people sweat over is just that, small. Time to gain a wider sense of what genuinely matters.
Today I had two appointments- the zapping and then a final check from one of the nurses. Typically being my last appointment we’ve had the longest delay today and then the worst drive home meaning that it took us 4.5 hours to get sorted. The waiting area is one of the dullest physical spaces in the hospital and I literally have to resist getting up and sorting out the piles of magazines and the notice boards and moving the chairs around into a more welcoming place; I know that these are little things and that they actually are probably no one’s specific responsibility but when you spend hours somewhere, you notice.
You also notice the other patients and how they’re doing, some faces become familiar and you end up chatting or at least on nodding terms with them. You’re in a specific club together that no one wanted to join in the first place. Some leave much too early.
I’ve come away with cooling pads and treatment gel to help me through the next couple of weeks as the side effects peak in about 7-10 days (and joy of joys combine with the Tamoxifen effects) and then hopefully subside. I’ll see my Oncologist in about 6 week’s time.
So it was time for thanks, a cake and some goodbyes.
I’ve been fortunate to have great care from a great deal of the team at the Churchill. Notably Carol, Pip, Natalie and Donna have been those who I’ve been looked after by a lot and they are the ones who have made me listen to 80’s music and most painfully today- Take That (A million love songs later, specifically). So with that attention to medical and musical detail they deserved something to say thank you from the bottom of our hearts, to acknowledge their care and consideration and to keep them firing on all cylinders as they have to power through their day.
It could only be a Super Sharing Sponge from SPONGE, as you all know that my actual sponge baking skills are yet to be discovered- though I have recently been given a ‘failsafe formula’ to use but have not yet risked it. I love these images of them opening it up.
It was sad to say goodbye to the team, but bittersweet too. Several times I felt quite emotional and I’ll admit it, a little bit scared. The nurse explained that this is often the time that patients feel at their most vulnerable and might feel that some external support is helpful. I can sense that it could be a useful bridge between now and……………………….and what? I’m not sure.
Life has been pretty tough these last few months, lots of lessons learnt, revealing, much to ponder on and be grateful for and a whole new perspective on what matters.