Ringing the Bell after my Final Radiation Therapy for Breast Cancer | Battling Bertha #25

Today is Thanksgiving here in the USA.  I have much for which to be thankful this year.

It may seem odd to many that I feel gratitude during a time in which I am battling for my life.  Yet, there are so many reasons to feel grateful.  I found Bertha early.  Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, I have very good health insurance.  I have amazing doctors and caregivers.  My family has been beyond supportive.  My friends have been true soldiers in my battle.  Both my greeting card business, and the custom furniture company I run with my husband, continue to do well.  My cup truly runneth over.

Today, I am filled with appreciation as I share photos from an event that took place 10 days ago, my final dose of radiation therapy for breast cancer.

Ringing the Bell after Radiation Therapy for Breast Cancer

I received 36 daily doses of radiation therapy for breast cancer, interrupted by a short hospitalization. On November 17, 2014 I celebrated my final therapy session by adding my pink hand print to the wall leading into the therapy room and then an enthusiastic ringing of the bell.

Shanta was there for almost every dose of radiation therapy I received. Her last day at the center was Friday, the 14th, and so she was going to miss my final day. I am so grateful to Shanta for taking her lunch hour from her new job to come and celebrate with me!

Mimi is the receptionist, she keeps things running smoothly in the office and would stash my favorite candy to the side so there was always a piece for me to enjoy before therapy.

Shanta and Mimi

Shanta and Mimi

Dr. Lewis has a big heart and very patiently answered all of my questions. Her nurse, Beverly, was not in the office for my celebration, but it should be noted that she is very sweet and kind, as well.

Dr. Lewis, my Radiation Oncologist

Dr. Lewis, my Radiation Oncologist

Unless you are a regular follower of my blog, you are probably wondering why George Clooney is in the all the photos. I named the radiation machine (linear accelerator) George Clooney. I figured if someone was going to see me naked everyday, it might as well be George Clooney.

This machine is George Clooney

This machine is George Clooney.

Lacey is the lead therapist at the clinic.  Did you know that becoming a radiation therapist requires a 5-year bachelor of science degree in Radiation Therapy and that less than a handful of schools in Texas offer the degree program?  It’s a highly specialized field and requires a warm personality, as well as, smarts.

Lacey, the lead Radiation Therapist

Lacey, the lead Radiation Therapist

The staff at Apollo Cancer Center were all wonderful. Rafael, another of my regular therapists was not there for my final treatment, but you can see a photo of him dressed us Gru from Despicable Me here.  I can’t say that I will miss therapy, but I will always think fondly of the staff.

I can't say I'll miss therapy, but these ladies made it fun.

I can’t say I’ll miss therapy, but these ladies made it fun.

Lacey was inspired to start the tradition of collecting patient hand prints on the wall leading into the therapy room after their final treatment by the clinic where she served her residency. It was rather inspiring to know that all those patients had survived the process before me.

Celebrating with all who came before me.

Celebrating with all who came before me.

I chose to make my hand print pink.

Okay, so survived might be a harsh word.

Pink for Breast Cancer

Pink for Breast Cancer.

It’s not that radiation therapy hurts, it doesn’t. Well, the radiation burns suck. It is just a rather emotional experience.

I'm pinked up and ready to print.

I’m pinked up and ready to print.

I mean seriously, here I am bald, laying on a table with my deformed, scarred breast exposed, while people I just recently met move me around on a narrow table and write with permanent markers on my bare skin.

Choosing to to find the humor in the situation made it bearable. I share more about coping with emotions during radiation therapy in a post from several weeks ago.

I can't believe I let them take pictures of me without my wig!

I can’t believe I let them take pictures of me without my wig!

So, it was not hard for me to take one of those very same permanent markers and sign my name on the wall next to my pink hand print.

It's Official.  I'm done!

It’s Official. I’m done!

After getting dressed, I headed back to the lobby where my friend Tanya was waiting to help me complete the final task. the ringing of the bell:

I am not sure who started the tradition of bell ringing. I couldn’t find much info on Google. If you know how the tradition came about, please share in the comments.  I do know that it was very satisfying to ring that bell.

A huge thank you to Tanya for coming out to celebrate with me!

Thank You Tanya for Celebrating with Me!

Thank You Tanya for Celebrating with Me!

I will probably share one or two more posts about radiation therapy because it was such a huge part of my treatment plan, and I feel like I need to share a little more.  For example, how I treated the radiation burns.  All in due time.

Today, I will enjoy my family and the amazing non-traditional Korean meal I prepared in lieu of turkey.

Happy Thanksgiving! Gobble! Gobble!

Kandas

Comments

comments

3 comments

  • Cancer is very treatable an early stage. You just need to care for your body by having regular check up.

    Reply
  • Candace Denman

    I am so happy for you. I love being a Radiation Therapist. I have the opportunity to care for many wonderful folks like yourself. Those 6-8 weeks of treatment allow me to really get to know my patients and their families. We ring a bell at our site to celebrate our patients victories as well.Congratulations!

    Reply

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