The Last Day Of Radiation For Breast Cancer

52 days ago I thought today would never get here. I had already been through so much, a cancer diagnoses, lumpectomy and chemotherapy. My next course of treatment was 38 sessions of radiation. I was scheduled to go Monday through Friday at 7:48am. My insurance is through Kaiser and the location of their treatment center was 45 minutes away. I was not looking forward to battling cancer AND Los Angeles traffic but knew I had no other choice.
Monday July 8, 2009 was my first day of radiation. I pretty much kept to myself the first few days. I noticed there was always a man waiting by the elevator doors. We would say ‘hello’ or ‘goodbye’ as I walked by him each time. By the end of the week he learned about my breast cancer and he told me about his fathers voicebox cancer. What a great son to be driving his parents to radiation treatment everyday. His name was Al and we parted with a hug on my tenth day of treatment. Although I was very happy about his dad finishing his radiation I was also sad that I wouldn’t see Al’s smiling face everyday.
During that second week of radiation I was walking toward my treatment room when I overheard a man talking about the burning he was having on his treatment area. I tried to find him on my way out but he was already gone. The next day I noticed him in the waiting room so I sat down next to him. I reached into my purse and brought out a small bottle of aloe vera gel. “Put this on everyday after your treatment and at night before you go to bed. That is what I have been doing and it seems to be helping me”,  I said. He smiled and thanked me. We had nice conversations every day for five weeks after that. He knew I was house hunting and one day he brought me a magazine of houses for sell. His name was Mr. Sanajelo and I said goodbye to him almost two weeks ago. He came back last week to say Hi to those of us still in treatment. He was as disappointed as I was that he couldn’t say goodbye to Ron.
Ron was a very nice man in his mid-seventies. He had lost all of his siblings to cancer when they were in their 50′s. He felt very privileged and lucky to have dodged cancer until now. The doctors scheduled him to do chemo and radiation at the same time. After his first week of chemotherapy he was put into the hospital due to complications. He was in the hospital for a week. I met him when he returned for radiation. He would show up two hours early for his treatment in hopes that they would call him early one day. They never did. I smiled everyday as I was walking away and I heard him say “she’s such a nice young girl”. I’m sure the others in the waiting room got sick of hearing it, but I never did.
When Ron was on his second round of chemo he had some awful side effects. I was so proud of him for still making it to his radiation appointments every day. I clapped for him that Friday when I knew it was his last day of chemotherapy. I was so happy for him! He had gotten through it and only had two weeks of radiation left.  I told him to have a great weekend and that I would see him on Monday. I never saw him again. Every day I look at his parking spot and see another car parked there. I stare at the empty seat in the waiting room where he always sat and I wonder about him. I hope that where ever he is, he is in a better place. I only wish that I could have said goodbye.
Mrs. Martinelli is an older lady. She had a mastectomy a year ago and thought cancer was all behind her. Then in April of this year she discovered another lump in the spot where her breast is suppose to be. Who know you could get breast cancer even after having a mastectomy? Two days ago she asked me about my side effects from radiation. I told her that they really weren’t so bad. I itched for a week and my skin turned red and that was about it. She showed me a large lump on her arm and told me it hurt when she touched it. She was hoping that I would tell her that was normal. Instead, I told her that when she goes in for her treatment to ask to speak to a doctor. The doctor has scheduled a biopsy on it. I pray that the results will show it is nothing but a cyst.
Today is my last day of radiation. I know that as I have missed others, I will also be missed. Though we are all such different people, cancer has brought us together. In seven and a half weeks I have gotten to know and care about so many people who are going through the same battle as I am. I hope that Mrs. Martinelli bonds with someone else for her last three weeks of treatment. I hope that the other people I have met will finish their treatments without any problem. I hope that those who come after me will never have to look at an empty seat and wonder what happened to their new friend. And as much as I have come care about these people, I hope that we never meet again.

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