Raisin- A deep plum color
Almost exactly one year ago I was in my last week of external beam radiation; finally conquering thyroid cancer was a long process. After three surgeries, and I-131 radiation, the doctors were surprised that my papillary thyroid cancer was not going away and in fact, spreading rapidly. It was determined that I was resistant to RAI and also carried the anti-thyroglobulin antibody making blood work consistently abnormal. External beam radiation was one of the most difficult things I had to endure in my entire life. Not only were my head and neck bolted down tightly on a table for 30 minutes using a mask that made me look like I was pressed in a waffle maker, but I was burning from my nose to my chest. What’s crazy is that by the time your skin looks like it’s burnt, you are completely fried on the insides. In fact, my dog would constantly lick my neck making me wonder if I somehow smelled like fried chicken. I was radiated every day, 5 days a week, for almost seven weeks. By week five, my mouth and throat were so burnt on the inside that I couldn’t swallow anything solid; protein shakes were too thick and would make me choke and cough. When it was all over, I had lost 30 pounds and was completely exhausted for weeks afterward.
Believe it or not, there was beauty in all of this. When doing external radiation, you typically have to come in at the same time every day so the machines are calibrated and the amount of radiation circulating is even throughout the process. Because of this, I was with the same people everyday, from the techs to the people in the radiation waiting room with me. We were a mix of different ages and different types of cancer. Everyone was exhausted and a little depressed but we all had hope; we all hoped that this would help in our cancer fight. Listening to each other and getting to know each and what led us there showed me that everyone has a story. We were all in hospital gowns so there was no comparison, free of façade. We were just there, all fighting cancer, all scared, all burnt, and yet, all hopeful. It truly was a beautiful thing.
What I learned is that if you take the time to just sit and listen, everyone has a story and it’s brought them to where they are today. If you just look people in the eyes, you can sometimes feel their soul. It’s also unbelievable what a smile and a hug can do. I know for me, that’s what I needed every day; a smile and a hug, just to carry me through to the next day.
I did not keep in touch with any of the people I met in that waiting room, but in honor of them and the time I spent in the basement of that hospital being beamed with radiation, I wear Raisin Lipstick. It is a beautiful deep plum color, but a raisin is a grape that’s been dried up by the radiation of the sun; just like us.
Enjoy life and smile!
Tags: Anna Warner, author of My Journey with thyroid cancer through lipstick, Raisan - a deep plum color, redefining ourselves by wearing lipstick, the power of healing in lipstick, thyroid cancer blog, thyroid cancer forum, thyroid cancer journey by Anna Warner, thyroid cancer journey through lipstick, thyroid cancer support