Going for the Glow

Monday was the dress rehearsal for radiation. I was positioned on the table and several x-rays were taken to make sure the radiation coordinates were accurate. Tuesday was supposed to be the first day of radiation, but after two hours waiting for the machine to be up and running, the appointment was canceled.

Yesterday, Wednesday, the machine was working again. I was done in 10 minutes, from the time I left the waiting area to when I was dressed and leaving the building. Today was the same. I feel nothing during the treatments, which last for no more than two minutes. My skin looks no different. I cover my left side with aloe and “My Girl’s Radiation Cream” after every treatment. Then put on my non-aluminum deodorant before heading out the door. Tom’s of Maine is the only deodorant the doctor approves of me wearing during treatment. I can only imagine sparks flying off my pits with the regular stuff. Like a metal-edged plate in the microwave.

Talking with other patients in the waiting room and then confirming with my doctor, I discovered that I’m actually having the 33-day plan. I thought it was a six-week plan or 30 days. That three day difference means we won’t be going to Iowa in April for a long weekend. Assuming the machine doesn’t break down again, my last treatment will be April 16th. We had already booked a time share in Florida for the following week. So we are taking a late in the day flight out on Monday the 19th, just in case I need to run in for one last treatment that morning.

Today in the waiting room I met a woman who was a least 65; she told me she was on Medicare. She walked in, looked at me, and point blank said, “When was your last chemo?” To my “end of January” reply, she said, “Holy shit! You have a lot of hair!” Which made me grin: Only another chemo patient would think I have a lot of hair right now. She pulled off her gray wig to show me her bald-on-top head. Her hair is growing quickly on the sides and not so much on top. She’s been bald since August; it’s taking a while for hers to grow back. Mine is growing in evenly. I’m probably back to the crew cut length of Halloween.

As of this week, I’m wearing the wig less and less, mostly to school to pick the boys up. I took Will to the Museum of Fine Art in Boston yesterday without the wig. He looked at me and said, “But Mom, we’re going to be with people. Why aren’t you wearing your wig?” “I just don’t want to, Will.” He has been cataloging when I have something on my head.

An aside: We were looking for Monets in the museum. From the information center, we got a bag with colored pencils and paper in it, then a museum employee took us to the gallery where most of Monet’s paintings are displayed. The woman asked Will what kind of art he liked best. Without hesitation and very seriously, he said, “Monet’s and mine.” We sat on the floor in front of two Water Lily paintings and sketched them for 45 minutes.

I started a Zumba class with Carrie Tuesday night. I can only describe it as a dance class with a Latin feel, so my hips say today. I put in my contacts and didn’t wear my wig. In the mirrored studio, I looked like a dancing turnip. By default, we were in the front row. I wondered if my looks distracted anyone. By the end, I had changed to a glowing beet. With my fair complexion, I have always gotten red in the face quickly. I should have warned the instructor, or at least Carrie, because I looked like I was going to pop. But I didn’t overdo it… I heard some of you gasp at the mention of dance class.

Staying strong,