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Coming of Age (conclusion)

     When I last left you I was wondering how in heck I’d make it to my appointment on the fourth floor of the medical building only seven days after having the stuffings taken out of me to rid me of a stubborn cancer.

     You remember I said I was a stubborn cuss, so yes, I made it. Looked like an ol’ lady of ninety-seven, shuffling down those long corridors in my unzipped slacks covered over with a generous size sweater, but I made it.

     The hematologist/oncologist said the surgeon got all the cancer out and none was found in the twenty-nine lymph nodes that same surgeon so generously helped himself to, but…

     But still he recommended radiation therapy. No chemotherapy - I let out a sigh of relief, then listened as he described two possible radiation treatments. One was body part specific; the other was global. He wished me well and told me to make an appointment with the radiation medical group.

     At home I made the appointment and then I eased myself down onto the couch to continue recovering. Ahhhh… two free days before Staple Removal Day.

     I hadn’t counted the staples, not being able to see all of them below the equator of my waistline, but I knew there were well over twenty. Only two of them really got me and thus I survived Staple Removal Day.

     Two weeks later, I ventured out to the radiation medical group. The radiation therapist told me my options ranged from “do nothing” to “daily radiation for three weeks.” She recommended a middle option of localized radiation, but wanted to speak with my doctor first because...

     The wrong doctor had referred me to her. The referral was supposed to come from the surgeon who took all my parts away and then stapled me back together – not from the hematologist/oncologist. She would talk with the surgeon before proceeding.

     In these days of instant communication, it was two weeks before I heard from her. In the meantime I had my post-op checkup. The doctor said my remaining parts were in unusually excellent condition. This led me to question the benefits of attacking these healthy parts with large doses of radiation. But – doc knows best.

     I also had gone online to the American Cancer Society and National Cancer Institute websites to learn more about my particular brand of cancer and the various treatments. Information on these sites encouraged me to dream of the possibility of needing no radiation.

     When the call came in on my cell phone, I was getting a haircut. I had recovered my ability to eat, walk and dress sort of normally, but definitely not enough to leap out of the chair and race across the room to answer my phone.

     The call was from the radiation therapist. She’d spoken with the surgeon and was ready to talk to me about treatment. She asked me to call her back.

     I dreaded that call. I’d been leaning toward the “no radiation” treatment and now I was about to hear the decision of two highly respected doctors. I was sure they’d recommend radiation. I paid for my haircut, went to my car and drove to a familiar parking lot where I said a prayer, sucked in my breath and made the call.

     If you happened to be in that parking lot last Tuesday and saw a lady shoot straight up and out the moon-roof of a gray sedan, yelling happy cheers – that was me. The words that set me off:

     “Your doctor recommends no further treatment.”

     The referral was a mistake.

     I was lucky. I think of all the people who are not so lucky and I admire them for their bravery and perseverance and I pray for them and wish them wellness soon. And I thank all the people who prayed for me and supported me and I exercise and eat lots of broccoli and carrots and fresh fruit and whole grains.

     I wish the best of health to you all and happiness no matter what.

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