Friday, 6 January 2012


It was a scary decision. I wobbled back and forth weighing the risks. You might not believe this, but tumours on the brain are not nearly the fun they’re cracked up to be and I wondered if there was some little cell-sized smidgen left after the surgery. Whole brain radiation was insurance. And maybe I’d have gone for it if I hadn’t started researching and asking questions. 

I never leave well enough along, though. I trust my doctors and western medicine to be well-intentioned but it seemed to me that this particular procedure was much like trying to kill an invisible (and possibly imaginary) flea by driving a tank over my head. True that if there was a flea, it would probably die. But true also that I would be wearing some mighty deep tire tracks. 

It was cognitive impairment – almost a guaranteed side-effect and possible deafness that really put me off. I wasn’t fussy about permanent baldness.  Certainly the idea of being in Decadron psychosis wasn’t inspiring, either.

Finally, I announced to my G.P. that I’d decided not to undergo the treatment and was surprised when she smiled. She wouldn’t, of course, advise me one way or the other – but she was very enthusiastic about the flea and tank metaphor. And she said if she had to make the decision, she’d have to think very carefully about it. 

Yesterday, I steeled myself to tell the radiation oncologist – who didn’t utter a word of disagreement or warning but encouraged me, when I told him I planned to join a gym when my energy picked up a little. “One of the best things you could do for your recovery,” he said.

Well, blow me down. Where was all this when the treatment was matter of factly the standard way to go?

It’s been a long, nasty ride. As my friend Peter Sewell pointed out in his blog – there’s a big difference between surviving and living. Since September, I’ve been surviving. I’ve lost count of the X-rays & MRIs. And if I’d had one more chemo session, I’m not altogether sure I could have made myself show up for it. 

Now, there are only six more targeted radiation sessions to get through. They aren’t as bad – and I enjoy teasing the technicians. I’ve threatened to change the “Elmo Loves You” sticker on the big machine that hovers over me to a “Fu*k Elmo” sticker. 

Six more. And then, one step at a time, as I recover from cure-induced toxicity and exhaustion – I get to live life as myself. I won’t be the same person I was in August. And hospital tests and checks will be fairly frequent, but I can work on my very modest bucket list: walking the Frog Pond nature trail, sitting by the ocean, seeing friends, doing some creative work and coaxing my body back to health. 

Here’s to 2012. And to thinking for yourself.


NEDbeads said...

I'm so glad you were able to reach a decision - the process of trying to do that was probably almost as stressful to your whole being as the other procedures have been... and I wholeheartedly support you in it. Love to you, L, always.

Roberta said...

I am so relieved to hear you won't be going down that possibly crippling path.

And I do love your analogy of the tank and the flea.

Cynthia Newcomer Daniel said...

Good for you. You're welcome at my ocean any time.

nangel9 said...

You are so incredibly brave. Based on what I know (little) I think you made a sound decision. I hope as the year warms to spring your health blooms as well. Here's to squeezing every bit of joy out of every minute we have (except inventory. I can find NO joy in inventory other than it being done!)

peter sewell said...

Under all the toxic chemicals and radiation you are still the same beautiful lady you were before diagnosis. Enjoy the walks Linda - you earned 'em! xx

VanBeads said...

Good for you and your decisions, Linda! We're all here to support you. And if you ever fancy a journey to some lakes (instead of an ocean), well, there are some beautiful lakes here in the Adirondacks.

Pat Barber said...

You Go Girl! I know making the decision was the toughest thing you've ever done. Like Peter says, go enjoy your walks - you've earned them! And while taking them, know that you are very loved and supported, and that won't change no matter how you had decided or will decide in the future.