Making My Skin Crawl

Sorry friends, it’s been too long.  Part of my treatment plan included radiation treatments.  I had a consult with my radiologist a few weeks after I got the exciting news that I was cancer free.  In my head, I figured I’d get a high five from the radiologist and talk about how he wasn’t going to really need to treat me.  Yeah, he and I were not on the same page.  So, after I made him explain all the inner workings of radiation, results from multiple clinical research trials local and international, and discuss his curriculum vitae, I agreed to the treatment.

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To make the decision sting a little more the radiation machine at the hospital location closest to me was being replaced, which meant, I’d be traveling downtown for treatment. Downtown. Five. Days. A. Week. 30 total treatments

Can you tell I had a not so good attitude about this treatment? I had a down right bad attitude about my treatment. Then I met the radiation team and again with the radiologist and they all were super nice and fun. Before each session I got to pick a Pandora station to listen to and I think I threw them for a loop with my random music choices.  Also, the registrar, Ms. A and I became fast friends, seriously she was the highlight of my mornings!

The first hiccup occurred when we had to evacuate due to Irma.  The clinic suffered some damage and required a few days for repairs so I missed almost two weeks of treatments. Bleh.  Then, oh and then it all just started falling apart.

Radiation is like getting a super amped sunburn.  There is lots of instruction about keeping your skin moisturized and there being the potential for fatigue.  Let me just tell you, I’m getting real tired of being real tired.

Right before my last week of treatment, I started to get itchy in the area receiving radiation.  I felt like I was on fire under my skin, but there was nothing visible on my skin.


On a quick trip to hang out with my parents, I noticed a small open wound in my armpit, it was tiny but hurt something awful.  From there, it seemed like that wound got bigger each day, and then each hour and then every millisecond.  Every movement that involved the tiniest movement of my armpit was torture!!

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My underarm looked like fresh roadkill, and I contemplated just having my arm amputated, I mean since cutting things off seems to solve problems.


Well, my battle wound earned me a week off radiation and hands on experience in wound care and pain management.  Some of the pain started to fade away toward the end of that week, but the mutilation wasn’t completely over I learned, as pieces of my skin glopped onto the shower floor as I lathered up one day.  “Why does this need to be so hard? I just want to be done!!”

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I marched into the clinic to resume my final week a little down trodden, but once I was greeted at the registration window by Ms. A my spirit perked up.

As I lie on the table in my body mold, trying not to think about how much I didn’t want to be there, my radiation therapist came to check that I was in the right position and moved my necklace out of the way.  “Hmmm. Flint n Honey? What’s that?” as the chain and pendants jingled in her fingers.  I told her how old friends from high school had the necklace made for me when I started this blog, and how I liked the verse and to wear the necklace to remind me that God can provide something sweet from something hard.   The final week went by without a hitch and I rang that bell with gusto!


Foolish of me to think that being cancer free meant rainbows and glitter storms for the remainder of my journey. I knew that wouldn’t be the case, but I had hoped for more glitter showers than not.  I started back at my old job the next day and it about killed me.  I didn’t realize I was so puny. I have been having a hard time getting used to being puny, and achy, and overall feeling like an old rickety lady.  I am thankful that treatment is behind me and I will never have to experience the woes of radiation again.


Signs and Wonders

I have heard it said, that big miracles don’t happen anymore, and God doesn’t speak to people the way He did in the Bible.  In the wake of hurricanes Harvey and Irma we’ve seen many stories of miraculous occurrences and people demonstrating a spirit of love and selflessness.  This got me thinking about the recent  miracles in my own life.


When I was first diagnosed, that first week was like an out of body experience.  I was on autopilot.  I’d hear myself telling friends and family about my diagnosis, but every time, it felt as if I was standing outside watching myself  through a window.

Once I’d had my lumpectomy and the not so stellar pathology report, sleep was not really happening.  After a few nights of staring at the ceiling for hours, I slipped quietly out of bed.  There on my knees, I asked, nope begged God for a sign. My own personal burning bush, a giant angel, anything to assure me that I could beat this. I wanted proof of life.  It wasn’t too long after my urgent plea, I found out I was pregnant.  While the ObGyn saw an obstacle to my treatment, that ultrasound heartbeat was my parted Red Sea.


What better symbolizes life than a heartbeat and a growing baby?  When it was recommended, I terminate, I didn’t consider it for even a moment, I knew without a doubt this pregnancy was an answered prayer, a reminder that I was not alone.

Now, the Lord never sent anyone with wings (well, visible ones) to speak to me, but I can see His hand in so much of the happenings in this past year.  I was scheduled for a PET scan shortly after my lumpectomy, but the doctor canceled the appointment over some confusion with my insurance. The little insurance snafu turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because PET scans and pregnancy do not mix.

There of course was the amazing team I found closer to home for treatment and the new obgyn that so graciously prayed for me and my unborn child.

Anytime I started to feel overwhelmed, discouraged, or anxious, I would get at least one encouraging phone call, text, package, and/or letter. Seriously, every single time.

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I mentioned sleepless nights earlier, but even before my diagnosis, it was hard for me to fall asleep.  I am a worrier and a little bit of a control freak, although I much prefer “strategist”.  I would lie in bed replaying the day’s events analyzing them, remembering everything I forgot to do, making plans for the next day or two…or five.  Once I decided to genuinely let go and let God, I now fall asleep with no trouble, well unless Dave is snoring, or Micah  can’t sleep because one of her eyelashes hurt. (True story.)

The most obvious miracle is of course the delectable baby I had in April, born healthy and happy. She is the happiest of happy babies, always giggling, gurgling, and smiling.  Just in case the adorable baby wasn’t enough of a reminder, and because I believe God is thorough and wanted there to be no doubt that it was His involvement, look at this birthmark.


Now, y’all can go ahead and zoom out, the birthmark does not look like Jesus, the cross, or Mother Mary.   Her birthmark is in the exact spot where my lump was located and pretty much the same size.

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Now many of you will chalk this all up to coincidence, and that’s fine.  I say, “Well played God, well played”, because I know He gets me and probably got a kick out of my face when I saw it there, and heard the pediatrician describe its location the exact way the location of my lump was documented.