Twice today the image of butterflies came up. So it seems the butterfly is the image of the day.
First, this morning I returned to radiation after my 3-day hiatus from "The Machine." This is kind of a big week for me--it's my last full week of treatment and after Tuesday I will be down to just the five "boob boosts" which are the quick, targeted radiation to just the incision spot. And do you know how those darling radiation therapists wanted to celebrate with me? Yeah, they wanted to draw on my boob. Like I'm some sort of third grad art project! That's just weird, dontcha think? It's not weird to them. They claim it's required. And get this--I can't wash it off!! So, with the doctor's consent and involvement, they've now marked me with indelible ink circling the target area (Sharpie does not do this justice--and believe me, if it wouldn't get my blog shut down and fined by the morality police, I would be showing you a photo of this). Then, I'm pretty sure just to mock me, they put five little stickers on me--and two of them are butterflies. Oh, and I can't wash these off until radiation is over--8 days from now. Okay, I'm sure these butterflies serve a medical purpose but right now, they are two little creatures clinging to my abused breast and smiling up at me through a permanent felt-tip marker circle. You can't imagine how weird this looks. Hundreds of years from now scientist are going to be describing the weird pagan rituals our culture put breast cancer patients through and 12 year-old medical students who jet-packed to the hospitals will be laughing at this. Probably while looking at a photo of my breast that someone found on a fossil known as a blog on a laptop (which will seem gigantic and slow to them). Who knew that cancer treatment involved felt tip markers and butterfly stickers??? Raise your hand if you knew this!! (Okay, put it down--you're alone at your computer and you're a radiation therapist, Jana!!)
Because I was getting additional body art this morning, I was running late. I actually didn't get out of the radiation place until almost 10 and I had a 10a.m. meeting across town. I raced to it but still arrived late. I run enough meetings myself to know how annoying it is to have to start over or break stride for the tardy participant, so believe me, I was all ready with The Cancer excuse. None needed. They didn't even skip a beat. But the meeting was the beginning of the strategic planning sessions for the Riverside Humane Society Pet Adoption Center. And here's where butterflies came up again. No, not as pets, silly. There was an analogy drawn that our pet adoption center was just ready to come out of its cocoon and blossom into a butterfly (and it is! We have a gorgeous new facility where all the animals stay until a forever home is found for them, and no healthy animal is ever euthanized--which is the way it should be!! But I digress...). The analogy stuck for awhile. And there it was--butterflies right in front of me (okay, and um, lower...maybe lower than they should be) twice in just over an hour. Anybody know what a butterfly symbolizes? (And just a thought here, but if it's eternal damnation, death, or you know, disease, please don't share that information. Think about it, 'kay?)
Later in the day I found myself doing that thing that I'm not supposed to do---checking out other cancer blogs. I'm not even sure how I found myself down that particular rabbit hole, but it had something to do with when a cancer blog appropriately ends. And, um, duh...sometimes they end because the person has died. Why was I not thinking about that???? I wasn't. Because I don't go there. I don't think like that and I haven't been told I need to think like that, but nonetheless every once in awhile I get slapped upside the head with that reality. People die from cancer. I have cancer. Wow. So much for my cancer lite theory! And I realized that perhaps I'm being presumptuous (but let's just call it positive thinking) that my odyssey is coming to an end. Certainly there is the possibility of recurrence, and there are definitely follow up appointments and mammograms and ultrasounds and scans and all that sort of stuff that happens when one has been unceremoniously and rudely attacked by that bitch Cancer. Still, I think getting this far and the fact that there are no signs of the cancer at this point is worth celebrating.
Besides, my radiation therapists and I briefly discussed the power of positive thinking in these situations (they deal with lots of cancer patients of course). I didn't really get when people said that to me in the beginning of all this--how much attitude matters. I just figured there were two choices and I didn't like the other one, so a "good" attitude would have to do (and isn't it funny how a "bad" attitude--of the F**k Cancer variety--can be a good attitude? Discuss amongst yourselves.) I see now though that it's really true. I don't know what lies ahead of me any more or any less than you do, really. Sure, I've got this 15% recurrence statistic hanging over me, but I've also got an 85% chance it doesn't come back. And I do know what I can handle now (more than I thought), and I do know that I didn't allow cancer to rob me of these last seven months of enjoying life with my friends and family or any of the things that are important to me (and yeah, my career is important to me, that's why I kept working...oh, and I like to eat). And it could have done that if I had let it, if I had focused on all that could have gone wrong or all that still might. So I understand what they mean by having the right attitude. It doesn't change my chances, and it doesn't change the future, but I think it made the last seven months easier for me and the people around me.
Wow. That was almost melancholy. Or perky. And I hate both those things!! Note to self: stay away from cancer blogs!! (Oh, wait...that doesn't apply to you, dearest reader).
Tomorrow is my final "full" radiation. Chris is going to go in with me. He's been to every stage of this cancer odyssey with me every step of the way, but I've been going to radiation each morning by myself (it's on my way to work), so it's definitely time for him to come in and meet all these people I keep telling him about and experience the radiation part of this. So in all likelihood, there will be photos soon. Maybe even photos of The Machine! Definitely we'll get some blue gown photos. But I'm not sure if I'll be blogging tomorrow evening--we have the final party planning committee (where we practice partying to make sure it will go well on July 19th1), and my friend GARY BERG is in town, so that's always a party. Hmm...there could be lots of photos for the next blog.