December was grand, wasn’t it? Big and shiny and sweet. Hope-filled and holy. We welcome January though – he brings a more familiar pace for most of us. It’s true for me too, in an odd way. Three times now I’ve stepped into a new year facing the route of radiation and recovery.
Yes, you read correctly. Each year before Christmas, I go get scanned. This year’s scans showed regrowth — again.
I’ve gone back and forth thinking of how to present this. Typing out a tantrum wouldn’t be helpful and trying to convert the story into a sappy-inspirational-something didn’t seem honest either. So let’s just lay it out . . .
Scans can neither confirm nor deny the presence of cancer with 100% accuracy. They simply show that there is uptake of iodine, which means there are thyroid cells (re)growing. These could be friendly or not-so-friendly. (Even if they are benign, they’d likely be a bit wonky after two radiation blasts. Glitchy thyroid cells aren’t desirable either.) So we treat this regrowth as if it is malignant and zap it again. That, dear friends, leads us here — three days into having stopped my Synthroid to prepare for treatment. In just over two weeks, I’ll swallow radioactive iodine dose #3. Then, isolation and recovery.
My natural response to pretty much everything is to plan. I suppose it helps me feel more in control. For the last several weeks, I’ve been cooking freezer meals, refilling the vitamin cabinet, ordering essential oils, and making lists upon lists to use when I can’t think straight. There are books stacked on my nightstand, yarn skeins stashed in the crochet bucket, and episodes of Gilmore Girls and Jimmy Fallon (and maybe Downtown Abbey . . .) standing ready for days of binge-watching. We’ve joked that I’ve been preparing for hibernation. I like to think of it that way. It sounds so cozy.
It is lovely to think of spending days on end in my pajamas drinking gallons of hot chocolate and warm tea, but really, this can turn dark and lonely.
A simple definition of radiation is “energy emitted in rays or waves.” When that stuff hits my stomach, my body isn’t fortress-enough to keep those rays from leaking through my skin and filling the air. Isolation is part of the process and protects the people I love from being exposed to my contaminants. Even in knowing that the purpose of separation is good, the practice takes its toll; fickle hormones don’t mix well with too much alone time. My tendency is to retreat into the corners of that fog and camp out in a ball of despondency.
But I refuse to do that again.
I may have no choice but to emit waves of nasty energy, but I choose to not be alone. I’m conducting an experiment. . .
In the weeks surrounding my treatment, even if I’m feeling frumpy or tired or defeated, I will share posts via Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram (you can connect with me at the bottom of this page). I often need to divert my focus from the walls I’ve been staring at or the way my body feels…so these posts will be snippets of goodness. At least once a day, you should see #RadiateJoie from me in your news feed. No schedule, no rules, just a small distraction from the yucky and a brief reminder that we’re connected. I would love it if you’d join me. Just use the tag. Who knows what will happen?
Here’s the first one:
I began rereading A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Don Miller a few days ago (it’s a good “new year” read.) This quote reached up and hugged me big . . . “If I have a hope, it’s that God sat over a dark nothing and wrote you and me, specifically, into the story, and put us in with the sunset and the rainstorm as if to say, Enjoy your place in my story. The beauty of it means you matter, and you can create within it even as I have created you.” #RadiateJoie
Ready? Go find good stuff. It’ll be the most gloriously radiant winter isolation-hibernation ever.