March 17, 2010

Hazel's Battle with Cancer Part II

The next two months of your life is going to center around your radiation treatment. Hazel's visits there will be the centerpiece of each of her mornings for the next seven weeks; Five treatments, five days a week for seven weeks.

We have no other experience of other radiation centers so this will be the only one we can comment on. It is new, so they have christened it as a state of the art facility. It is clean, and large. When we enter the facility Hazel goes through another set of doors into the treatment area and I, make myself comfortable in the outer room with other patients waiting, or relaxing after the treatment. It is a help yourself environment with coffee, tea, hot chocolate, soda pops and/or whatever a vending machine can offer. In a windowed alcove they always have a couple jigsaw puzzles in progress. Magazines scattered here and there and large wall sized windows letting in lots of light, environmentally and mentally uplifting, with an exclamation point on the mentally uplifting.

On one of Hazel's visits we were amused and amazed by a visit from a lady and her Bichon Frise dog. They were there to help take some of the patients minds off of their reason for being there and just to let them pet the animal, and talk baby talk or dog talk to it. The dog I think received as much love as he gave to the people. The little dog was as cute as the one's they use in commercials with a coat of white and big round black eyes. They also visit the hospital, and senior citizen facilities. God I am sure has special regards for people who are as caring and as giving as they are.

I have become aware that people want to talk about their problem, but will not initiate a conversation until I do. I find that trying to be fairly cheerful and greeting them with a good morning is better than not. After all there is a chance that we might see each other daily for a good portion of Hazel's seven weeks. I am also taken with the good humor of some, even though their stories and prognosis are not always the best. Some are going through an additional series of treatments for one reason or another, but certainly not because things are great. But they keep as cheerful an outlook as possible under the circumstances.

Being that the patient is scheduled for the same time everyday for varying amount of weeks it is run as informally as possible. Hazel leaves me each morning after arriving and goes into the adjoining treatment room where she disrobes. In Hazel's case it is only her top, and she puts on one of those beautiful, and you know you agree, hospital tops. Hazel's time on the behemoth, as she calls it is short. It usually takes a total of fifteen minutes, with ten minutes of that time being taken up by placement so she is in exactly the same spot each and every time. This is vital so accuracy not speed is the watchword. Hazel will be at the half way mark tomorrow and so far, so good. The discomforts she has encountered thus far are occasional pain in the breast and underarm, and itchy skin. The skin is feeling raw from radiation burn which is relieved somewhat with ointment applied in copious amounts. An extra amount of optimism and understanding that the cure, although somewhat painful, is routing out the demons that have trespassed uninvited. Making light of a very serious and sometimes tragic turn of events is hard to do when you really want to fly off into a tangent spouting every curse word you've ever learned, but you cope.

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