Sunday, February 27, 2011

CyberKnife Eve

Kind of like Christmas Eve, but with more radiation.

So the plan is finalized. I have 5 sessions scheduled for this week. I'll be getting zapped for 90 minutes, M-F, beginning manana.

This is a great thing, right? I have a cancerous tumor, and they are about to kill it swiftly and effectively. So why am I feeling this unnamable anxiety? The type of feeling that noiselessly, soundlessly seeps into an otherwise happily unremarkable day, causing things to grey up a bit. Carbon monoxide in my garage.

At this point in my life, when I am feeling this way, I have to sit myself down and have a little talk. Which I did, tonight, over a bag of Skittles, just after the "Look Who Died This Year" -section of the Oscars. I isolated the disparate parts of what I was thinking and feeling, and considered each of them separately, to see if it was THAT thought which was the real problem. In order to figure out how to make myself feel better, I had to first figure out what specifically was scaring me.

Was it fear of being on that table and getting zapped? No. Actually, I need to get this thing done. It's going to make me better. It's a good thing, don't be scared of that, Shelly.

Fear of the tumor not actually dying? Not really, no. I have faith in this procedure. It's gonna work.

Ok, then, fear of death? Umm...Not really. I actually don't feel like I'm headed that way any time soon. Can't say why, except that I feel so damned strong and healthy. And everything has been going well for me, more or less, since my diagnosis. I keep getting better. (This one minor liver setback being the exception-- but it's just a setback, not a loss.)

Ok, good. So what then? Fear of abandoning loved ones? Nope, not this time. See previous thought. I am ok on that for today. (This is one of my biggest fears, so I always have to consider it).

And I went through the list. Eventually I realized that it's pretty simple. Any fussy new procedure I have to endure just reminds me that I have cancer, and I don't feel like being reminded. That's all it is. It'll be just another experience to file away in my brain's "Cancer" folder, that thick, crappy folder, full of strange, scary, painful, and occasionally poignant and hopeful, experiences. I'd rather be doing something else this week. That's all.

So you'll be happy to know that now I go to bed feeling brave and no longer scared, fully aware that this is an important opportunity for me, a necessary one, something to look forward to, really. I also know that I still hate cancer and would rather be spending my time in other ways. So aside from CyberKnife sessions, I WILL. I plan to make every day remarkable in its own modest way, somehow.

And why do I share this with you all? (Aside from attempting to dazzle you with my complex thought processes and captivating internal monologue?) (And all of this withOUT a phD?! Can I even afford my own billable rate?) I guess just to show you that this experience is a layered one, requiring lots of reflection and analysis at every turn. There's not a lot of "autopilot" in navigating cancer, unfortunately. Always something new to think about. Never a dull moment, I suppose.


  1. Will be pulling for you all week, Shelly! Bye bye, cancer!!

  2. Thought about you a lot today - saying lots of prayers - no flu, tumor be gone. Glad the Skittles went to good use. We went to World Market after my appt., but no cadbury eggs in yet - I did look.

  3. K- Oh, they've been in stock since before Easter in some stores. I've already been through many a bag....

  4. loved reading this. thank you. jules