Today Rich sort of had a pre-celebration regarding his radiation treatments.
Only one more to go.
This is a photo from his treatment room ... he is in his mask and the tech put his sunglasses and hat on him.
On Wednesday, April 29th 2015, Rich had his first radiation and chemo treatment.
That was 32 treatments ago.
It was inconceivable that we'd ever see the end of radiation or chemo. But now that last day is looming on Monday June 15th, 2015.
Even last week we felt like the 'end' was still so far off.
Some things to remember about radiation therapy. The side effects don't quit on the day the therapy quits.
The side effects can show up later in life in many various ways as explained in detail by Itzhak Brook MD in his book My Voice: A Physician's Personal Experience with Throat Cancer.
If you read the book or review it at this link you might wonder why on earth would anyone want to go through cancer treatment at all.
It is pretty simple.
The patient wants to live longer.
It is simple. Without the treatment the options are only one.
A slow and painful death.
We go for the treatment to up our odds, to gain some years with loved ones. Or because we feel deeply that we can be cured and look back on the treatment as a huge hurdle in life.
How do we feel today? Optimistic. We may or may not have 'beaten' the odds. We don't know what the eventual outcome is, but we are looking for it to be positive.
This journey is not over. We can't just wave goodbye to a several weeks of treatment and pretend it never happened. The whole process from the diagnosis through all the ups and downs of chemo and radiation has changed us.
It isn't HIM who has cancer. We know it is him, but it is we that went through it together.
The word we includes his doctors, the nurses, myself, his daughter, his son in law, the grand kids, and yes, even the dog.
Neighbors who have helped with meals, mowing yard, coming over to move round bales, my eldest son who came out and worked to help make fencing and clearing the area under the electric fence with a weed eater.
My youngest son, who sent photos and videos of his children to make us laugh.
Our dear friends who came to visit from Missouri and brought their newborn to cheer up Rich...
the list is endless and keeps expanding.
Gary, the broken down old soul who washes car windows at the gas station we stop at day after day. A nameless person until Rich and he shared cancer stories. Gary ~ the guy who gave me a hug when he thought I needed it. And yes I did need it.
Our journey is far from over. We have cleared the first hurdle and feel a bit more stronger to try and get over the next one that is tossed at us.
Today we fight the radiation burns on his neck. I gently rinse water to slough off the dead skin. I reapply Silver Sulfadizine carefully. This process can take up to an hour each time.
We get tired and short with each other. We laugh and hug. I tuck him in at night.
Sometimes we walk around each other like two cats preparing for a fight.
Other times we walk together holding hands.
So we have hope and we have love. We have changed in some ways.
And we remain the same people in many other ways.
It is hard to explain.
But we look forward to each new day.
Because we can.