My girlfriend happened to have yesterday off work, so she went with me to my radiation treatment. She had already met some of my team, but she had never seen the treatment room in action before. I was comforted by the idea of her going with me, of her being there the moment my treatment was finished.
But there was something more to it than that. And I couldn’t have anticipated it before it happened. What I felt, more than the comfort or the reassurance, was a weird sort of pride.
I’m not sure I can explain it. It wasn’t like I felt proud of the machinery or the room or the enormity of it all; those things have nothing to do with me, so I have no earned pride in any of it. But I was aware that my chest was puffing up a bit – no pun intended – when she came into the treatment room and exclaimed, “oh, holy shit!” It was an immediate feeling of validation, for sure. Like, maybe it wasn’t so crazy of me to be overwhelmed by it all on my first visit, like maybe it wasn’t that out of line for it to be overwhelming still.
But it wasn’t just the validation. It was more like, a pride in the fact that I’m doing this. That I’m getting through it. That I show up every day, head held high, and I simply get through it. I leave with my head just as high as it was when I walked in, and that’s a big fucking deal, to not get beaten down by all of the fear and anger and anxiety that shrouds those rooms. It’s thick, like really good gravy, and it has the potential to stick around even longer. And that’s appropriate, you know? What happens there is big deal shit, and it makes sense that it feels that way.
I am managing, so far at least, to define my experience in my own terms. So far, I manage to use laughter to cut through the gravy, I use information to slice away at the uncertainty, and I use my own determination to make my momma proud of me to still be who I am. Because the fact is that I’m getting pretty sick and tired of people telling me how strong I am, that I’m “so much stronger than I think.” I appreciate the sentiment, but the fact is, this isn’t about strength. It doesn’t take strength to lie on table and have something done. It doesn’t take strength to do this.
I also found out that kissing on a radiation table doesn’t really work. Just sayin’.
6 of 30 was a piece of cake.