Beyond Day Six
My sometimes-daily blog of a photograph or two with a few words, celebrating all the days of life that flow through creation into perspiration, inspiration, reflection, sabbath, and resurrection.
My tenth radiation treatment is late in the afternoon today, the only time that it wasn't scheduled in the morning. When I asked why, I learned that most of the day would be taken for the treatment of a child. Cancer is a challenge at any age, but it grieves me that it strikes children.
The journey has been difficult for me but I have asked questions, done research, listened to others who went on the journey before me, and relied on family and friends for support and prayers. I have a lifetime of experience. Still, it has been scary at moments.
The team that has been treating me will turn their attention today to a child who needs even more care and expertise. Blessings upon them. They exude confidence. They want to heal everyone. At any age.
Autumn Minaret used to be our last daylily to bloom during the season. And usually by that point I was weary of photographing the daylilies. But we have purchased additional daylilies that bloom late and we are still waiting on Carol Sing to begin blooming. Autumn Minaret is a Stout Award winner in 1951, the highest award for daylilies. It's been around a long time, almost as long as me! Hopefully, both of us will be blooming into the next decade or more! My ninth radiation treatment is today, 60% complete. Getting closer!
The scapes (bud stalks) are nearly five feet tall! I took one with a watercolor effect. I like them both. I too am stretching.
Veterans of radiation had told me that the fatigue effects of radiation built with the number of treatments. Yep, they are right. I didn't have a treatment today (Saturday), but I am definitely more fatigued today than I was earlier in the week and certainly from last Saturday. I'm nearing five months of cancer treatment and I am truly tired of fatigue. Seven more radiation treatments and then, hopefully, I'm done. I'm ready to rebuild strength and endurance. If it sounds like I want to turn back the clock, I do. I want to turn back the last two years. But that ain't the way it works.
Truth is, treatment is about done. I see it on my calendar. I'm ready.
Today is my eighth radiation treatment, and they are "flying by." So how about some butterfly photos? This is one of the most common butterflies: Tiger Swallowtail. This is the male of the species.
Another view of its wings.
And surprise, this is the female version in its dark form. They were on opposite sides of the garden. Wonder if they will get together.
Another sighting on the butterfly bush, this time by me. This is a Zebra Swallowtail butterfly.
I don't think these are as common as Tiger Swallowtails, large yellow marked butterflies. But the Audubon Guide notes that Zebra Swallowtails "are the most abundant regular North American representative of the kite swallowtails, named for their triangular wings and long sharp tails. Despite a large range, the zebra occurs only near pawpaw trees or its relatives." The host for Tiger Swallowtails are deciduous trees.
We must have pawpaw trees in the nearby woods. "Picking up pawpaws, putting 'em in our pockets..." Catchy tune!
This magic machine is the Varian TrueBeam linear accelerator. Varian True Beam link for YouTube
It sings to me.
This photo is the scene when I enter the room. The white sheet covers my unique mold for my treatment. I lie down on my back, reaching my hands over my head and grasping the white vertical handles. The table raises and moves back into the center of the machine. The large head at the top delivers the beam of radiation and revolves around my body nearly 360 degrees. The square on the right rotates to the uppermost position at the beginning and the team uses the green laser to accurately position my body. The first revolution takes magnetic images that are sent to the radiation oncologist to assure that I am in the right position for treatment. The lymph nodes under my left arm are treated first. Then the team checks the magnetic images for the radiation of my stomach (empty for 4 hours). Upon approval of the doctor, the radiation is administered in the second half of the treatment. It all takes about 15 minutes.
And during the second portion as the TrueBeam revolves around me with blinking lights and whirring noises, it sounds almost like it's singing. Not quite like the musical interlude that signals the end of the cycle of our washer and dryer in our home. But still, it sounds like faint singing. Probably hymns.
Today is treatment #5. 1/3 of the way to the finish line!
After lunch Sunday, Judy asked if I had noticed the hummingbird moth on our butterfly bush. Camera time! Bonus: two photos today! Technical details: 1/1500 second exposure, f/4, iso 800.
These hummingbird moths are members of the sphinx moth family. I believe this specific visitor to our backyard is a male Snowberry Clearwing because of its black legs and black line through its eye. The flared tail indicates that it is a male. It is half the size of a hummingbird.
Hummingbird moths have clear wings, edged in brown or black depending on the species. Unlike typical sphinx moths that fly at night, hummingbird moths are active during daylight hours. The moths lay eggs on plant leaves. The resultant caterpillars feed on the leaves and pupate in leaf litter. We have bunches of leaf litter!
Something to think about on Sunday, different from my health concerns.
Differences. We readily notice differences.
And we make judgments about the differences that we notice, assigning value to our preferences.
Consequently, the people of the world are divided into strangers, friends, aliens, and enemies.
What I understand about scripture is this division is not God's intention.
The epistle lesson for today, the Eighth Sunday after Pentecost, Ephesians 2:11-22 addresses this separation: "With his body, he broke down the barrier of hatred that divided us. He canceled the detailed rules of the Law so that he could create one new person out of the two groups, making peace....So now you are no longer strangers and aliens. Rather, you are fellow citizens with God's people, and you belong to God's household."
God's household is larger than most of us imagine.
"Have a good weekend, " the tech said as she helped me from the radiation table. "I'll see you Monday."
As I thought back on the morning events, I laughed at the interplay of greetings and words. The patient before me, as we passed in the hallway, said, "It's all good!" Not to me necessarily, but maybe as a testament to his treatments. I thought at the time, wait! Have you been checking my website? The parking valet told me to have a great weekend. Possibly, because I over-tipped him. And it is free.
It will be a great weekend. No treatments on Saturday or Sunday. It's a real weekend!
And Judy brought home sweet cherries from the grocery. I fell in love with sweet cherries 50 years ago when we drove around Lake Michigan and discovered sweet cherries at roadside stands. Three treatments complete. It will be a good weekend.
Friday will be my third session of radiation for treating my Large B Cell Lymphoma. There will be fifteen treatments total, with the final one scheduled for August 2. Two weeks ago, the technicians took several x-rays and a scan of my stomach, and made 5 different crosses on my upper body and two straight lines, one over my sternum and the other under my navel. The waterproof stickers protected the intersections but we were encouraged to redraw the lines that washed away with a sharpie. Wednesday's treatment took a long time with x-rays and physician consultations. The techs added red crosses with waterproof stickers over the intersections. But Thursday's treatment was finished in less than 15 minutes. I have not experienced any digestive issues yet with the radiation to my stomach, but I am being careful about what I eat. I do have a powerful need for a nap after the treatment, a substantial nap.
I am continually reminded how serious this cancer is, and how blessed I am that it was discovered early. Even the targets are temporary and will quickly fade. August will be here soon.