Posts Tagged ‘radiotherapy’

Scary – isn’t it?

A whole new horizon – and no markers in the sand to say ‘THIS WAY’

This is how I feel as I begin my journey beyond breast cancer.

And yet there is warmth in the sun and the breath of life, and boy does it feel good.

I am thankful to be alive.

6th October marks the anniversary of the day my life changed when I was told I had breast cancer. This is my week of transition when I step off the bridge.

Please come with me on this new journey.

I look back at the things we did before my year of breast cancer treatment. We had workshops on Spiritual Journalling, Touching the Edge of His Cloak, Listening to God’s Heartbeat. We joined the Benedictine Monks for retreats, and we spent a season Listening to God’s Heartbeat.

And now we can also look back on a long slow year exploring a journey with God – making breast cancer an opportunity to get to know God better.

I would like to keep learning and keep sharing – and to do this I value your help.

We have a Celebration on 16th October. BC and I are thrilled at your enthusiastic response. Please let us know if you have missed an invitation and would like to come.

And after the party, I want to build again on the foundations we laid. I value your feedback on two questions:

  • FIRST – I would like to run another WORKSHOP or RETREAT in the New Year? Are you interested to join me, and if so, what topic would you like?
  • SECOND – I would like to start another blog. This would be about what it means to have life to the full: taking John 10:10 and exploring what that means in our lives day by day.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full

Please let me know what you think. You can comment in the usual way by clicking on the comments tag at the end.  Or you can email me directly.  The next post tells you how to do that.

And about the new header to my blog. I took this photo after one of my early morning radiotherapy treatments. Sitting in the peace of a summer morning, I recognised how much the obstacle of treatment had become an opportunity to listen to God. What do you think – do you like it or did you prefer the orchids?


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I made it – the end of my radiotherapy treatment.

Time to celebrate and be thankful!

Click here and turn up the volume.

Join me, with folk all round the world, in a dance of gratitude.

Enjoy the music, feel the fun, and be delighted by the squeals of happiness . .

. . it is good to be alive!

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So this is it – my last day of radiotherapy.

The weather is cold and wet

Drive to hospital, early as usual.

Wander to the coffee bar; coffee tastes better today.

Thinking about yesterday’s news . .

‘New research promises better treatment for breast cancer – better survival rates!’

Give thanks for the treatment I can have today

Read my bible – Jeremiah chapter 19

‘Listen . . disaster . . listen to my words!’

Watch the huddle outside open packets – Smoking Kills

They light up.

Hmm – life is precious . . but not yet

Follow directions to Cancer Centre – yuk

No radio, no wait, no grumpy man

Three radiotherapists celebrate my finale

They care about the red triangle covering my breast

They give steroid cream, and wish me well

I present chocolates and a card

‘Thank you for your kindness and your care on this part of my journey’

Their eyes soften

I park at home and suddenly I am crying.

This was costly, and it was okay.

Father, life is precious – every day. I want to listen to what you are saying.

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Ok, so it is your job – and I am probably at least the twentieth patient you have seen today – but I am a person and I am not naturally comfortable baring my breasts to yet another three strangers.

I am tired and I have been here a long time.

This waiting room feels strange.

I hate the group humiliation of sitting in green gowns.

I miss the routine and the fish I had become accustomed to.

The radio might have been tolerable if it was tuned to the station.

There is no ‘off’ button.

And my breast is aching from 16 previous doses of radiotherapy. . . This is beginning to feel like an assault.

Please tell me what you are doing to me.  Why are you using a different process from yesterday?

. . So it is the BIG dose today – what on earth does that mean?

I can tell you are having difficulty getting the template set up.

Please give me some feedback – I am straining to hear words like ‘perfect’, or ‘spot on’.

Most of your colleagues have instinctively known these are the words I need to hear.

Do you expect me to let you hit the button for the BIG dose before I am sure you are confident that this is ‘perfect’?

Well you are wrong.

I am a doctor and I can ask questions even when I am bare-chested and lying on my back.

I know what it means to take responsibility for the outcome of a procedure. And I know how to give feedback without accusing you of failure.

Once I have my clothes back on, I will speak on behalf of the other patients who do not like to complain. . .

Please give us a treat and switch the radio off.

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Fourteen is . . .

The number of days in a fortnight

The number of legs on a woodlouse

The atomic number of silicon

The number of stations of the Cross

The number of lines in a sonnet

The number the right wing wears on his shirt in rugby union

The number of pounds in a stone

The age Jennifer Capriati turned professional

The common designation of the thirteenth floor in many buildings because of superstition

The age some young women are forced to marry in rural South Africa

The number of weeks of pregnancy when the baby can begin to suck its thumb

And 14 is the number of treatments I have now completed 🙂

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If you think of humbling yourself before God you might imagine lying prostrate or covering yourself in sackcloth and ashes.

I can testify that lying on your back, bare-chested, arms stretched above your head, feels pretty humbling. Add some strangers to the scene and the feeling intensifies.

Mark Twain was right

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society

You will not be surprised to hear I have been thinking a lot about this.

In the brief minutes on the rack while I have my treatment I feel vulnerable, powerless and naked before God.

Here I am, God,

No pretence

Flesh and bones

And the part that is me

No secrets

You knew me before I was born

You know me from start to finish

. . and I am not finished yet

Just as I am dependent on BC’s attributes when we have a disagreement, I reflect on how dependent I am on God’s attributes.

Lying naked and vulnerable, not knowing the future, I am dependent on God who tells me he is . . .

accessible creator eternal faithful father good gracious guide holy impartial immutable incomprehensible infinite jealous just long-suffering love merciful omnipotent omnipresent omniscient perfect preserver provider righteous saviour sovereign wise

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

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Week three, treatment 10 and all is well.

The sun keeps shining. Life and growth are all around me.

I know the routine:

Mosaic Art Sculpture - to support breast cancer

Brisk walk

Sigh under sign – RADIOTHERAPY

Doors engulf me

Card in box

Alcohol gel

“Hi, fish”

Read book

Blue gown, smiling faces, harsh room

Stretch on rack

Bare breasts

No jewellery, no blanket, no pretence

Nowhere to hide

Measure . . check

Adjust . . check


Pushed to the wall, I called to God; from the wide open spaces, he answered. God’s now at my side and I’m not afraid . . God’s my strong champion; I flick off my enemies like flies.
God’s my strength, he’s also my song, and now he’s my salvation.

So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.

The machine whines – I give thanks that any cancer cells are flicked off like flies.

Like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego I am not alone in the furnace.

As I walk back into the sunshine I breathe deeply – no smell of fire on me!

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