Sunday, June 2, 2013


We left off having just finished my birthday, a couple of trips to City of Hope for radiation positioning and meeting my surgeon about my prosthetic. What a year 2010 has been physically and emotionally on me and my family, and we have only made it to the beginning of August in my journey.

Following my visit with Dr. Femino to find out that my prosthetic was fine and I was on bed rest for nothing, I began radiation therapy. I went to therapy 5 days a week for 5 and a half weeks.  That is 130 miles round-trip for 28 days, or 3,640 miles back-and-forth. That's just shy of an oil change!

My radiation treatments.
The nurses in the radiation therapy area advised me that there would be burning of my skin in the radiation location as we were going over final paperwork for therapy consent. They suggested a couple different lotions specifically designed for radiation patients. However, we had seen enough of the wound vac nurse, Diane, that she had given us a secret weapon to avoid skin burns from radiation. There were 2 lotions that the hospital used for patients to keep their skin from drying out and keep them clear from bed sores. When these are used together in a specific order, they keep the skin of radiation patients from severe burning or, in my case, burning at all.

So, because we knew we were going to be putting me through radiation, 6-8 weeks prior to beginning therapy we began using the hospital lotions twice a day to "prep" my skin for treatment. After each session, my skin was a little pink like I had a little too much sun, but I could never feel any type of burning, the area was just very warm to the touch. By the time we would get back to our house, the pinkiness had calmed down and my skin would go back to normal again. We would continue using the lotions twice a day throughout treatment. By the end of my treatments, the nurses, techs and doctors were all amazed that I didn't have any burns and very little side effects from the treatment. When asked what we did, we always answered their amazement with the 2 lotion treatment. To this day, they still DO NOT suggest using those lotions for patients in the radiation area. But, I am living proof that those lotions work!

At the end of August (while still in treatment), my grandma planned a surprise birthday dinner for my mom. My mom is always doing such nice things for the rest of the family and we never seem to be able to do anything back for her. Grandma got several friends of my moms to gather at a local restaurant to celebrate my mom. She wasn't happy that we had to go out (she was worried about me hurting too much sitting in a restaurant) and that my grandma was going to make a big deal of it being my mom's birthday. However, she knew it was very important to my grandma to have dinner together as a family. She just didn't know there were more than just the 5 of us for dinner.

I sat in my transport chair (smaller version of a wheelchair) for the night, and dad kept his eye on me all through dinner to make sure I wasn't in too much pain and need to go home. But, I lasted through desert when I finally said my goodbye's to all our friends and had dad take me home. The pain level in my leg and my right backside was only getting worse as the year progressed. At this time, we still didn't have any answers on how to minimize or completely relieve the pain. So, I went out as little as possible. This night was just one of those things you had to do though. And seeing my mom so happy was worth every moment of pain.

Toward the end of September, radiation therapy was finally over. I made it through the 5 and a half weeks without burns, and all tests came back showing the tumor had shrunk in size (which was the desired result) slightly, but not as significantly as they would have liked. Through to December, I would go through some follow up appointments with the radiation oncologist to monitor how things were going. Through this time, the radiation was supposed to continue doing its thing and continue shrinking the tumor.

December 2nd came and I was to have a PET Scan as a follow up for my surgeon to review. There didn't seem to be anything out of the ordinary with the scanning process, so my family and I were hopeful that we would get good news when we saw my surgeon. On the 7th, we met with my surgeon and his nurse, Helen. Dr. Femino came in and was very excited. He said to us, "Whatever you are doing, keep doing it!" The tumor had "marked regression" which means that it was noticeably smaller than before radiation treatment. He was happy with everything that we were doing with the supplements I was taking, the vitamin C infusions, eating gluten-free and buying organic and chemical-free anything and everything we could.

Dr. Femino was so happy with the results that he said, "I don't want to see you again for 6 months." With that, Helen wrote me out a release form stating that I was able to return to full-time working status with some minor restrictions. This was the best news that our family had heard in a very long time. Now, I needed to contact my former boss and let them know I was going to be able to come back to work as long as they had a place for me still. We were so excited!


The Glory of Love by Bette Midler (Beaches Soundtrack)

You've got to give a little, take a little,
and let your poor heart break a little.
That's the story of, that's the glory of love.

You've got to laugh a little, cry a little,
until the clouds roll by a little.
That's the story of, that's the glory of love.

As long as there's the two of us,
we've got the world and all it's charms.
And when the world is through with us,
we've got each other's arms.

You've got to win a little, lose a little,
yes, and always have the blues a little.
That's the story of, that's the glory of love.

When I think about this time in 2010, I think of the movie Beaches with Bette Midler. I especially think about the song above, The Glory of Love.  And this song reminds me of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 where it talks about there being a time for every purpose, under heaven. I can't help but then thinking about Pete Seeger's musical adaptation of this scripture, Turn! Turn! Turn!, from the late 1950's. The scripture holds true. There is a time for everything. 2010 proved to me that there really is "A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;" (verse 4).

From The Glory of Love lyrics, I felt the "give a little, take a little, and let your poor heart break a little." I felt as though I had given a lot, taken very little, and had my heart broken over and over throughout the year. I felt such a high at the beginning of December after meeting with Dr. Femino, I didn't think that right after (literally) this would be ripped right out of my hands.

Next..."No Reason to Return."