At the time I started writing this post, Chase had completed 17 of his 30 radiation treatments. He has now completed 22! These radiation days can be pretty intense and it’s not unusual to start the day in one location (usually home) and end the day in a completely different location (the hospital). So as you can imagine, these days are never, ever dull. [sidenote: “Chase” and “dull” are rarely in the same sentence]
Here’s what a normal radiation day looks like … no wait, scratch that. Here’s what a radiation day last week looked like (we reserve the word “normal” for the days we don’t arrive in an ambulance).
There is a beautiful built-in fireplace which runs the length of the waiting room wall (picture a lovely five start hotel lobby) and Chase loves it. In fact, he refers to the radiation center as his “fire hospital” – not to be confused with his “fishy hospital” (a name derived from the aquarium in the lobby of his primary care hospital).
First, Chase gets his vitals done (blood pressure, oxygen saturation, etc) – which he hates – and then he gets to put a sticker on his sticker chart – which he loves. The radiation center staff kindly provided a sticker chart tailored to each child so that they can “check off” the days and see the progress they’re making. Chase’s chart was presented to him with Cars characters on it. Do they know him or what?
After he’s “cleared” for radiation, we walk to the room he calls his “spaceship“. This is the time when he’s usually clutching the iPod and listening to/singing with 10,000 Reasons. I wish I had better pictures of this room. One of the most striking things is his mask lying by the table. I can actually see his profile in the contours of the mask and I find myself staring at it every time we go in.
Almost every day, as Chase falls asleep, he says “I’m so brave, I’m so brave...” over and over to himself. It took me almost two weeks of this to get to the point where I wasn’t crying as I walked out of the room.
After Chase is asleep, I leave him in the “spaceship” and wait in the lobby. On this particular day, I had a particularly wonderful “Good Samaritan” who brought me a particularly needed drink. In other words, my dad brought me coffee.
After radiation is complete, the nurses allow Chase to sleep off the anesthesia for a little while, at which time, I join him in recovery and once they’re sure he’s stable and alert, we are free to go. Sidenote: for Chase, “alert” usually means “ninja“. A side affect of anesthesia for him is crabbiness – which means it takes three people to get him dressed on many days. A sidenote on my sidenote: when you read that last sentence, please don’t shake your head or cry at the thought of adults struggling with a small boy. Picture with a small, wry smile on my face as I type because I love his fight and although it is at times overwhelming, his stubborn, ninja-fighting, never-say-die attitude is a perfect God-given match for his cancer.
This day (that I took most of the pictures), we finished it as we’d started: on an ambulance. Once he got back to the hospital, he was given a little more chemo and then we were able to be discharged!
…and that is one of our more average radiation days! (ambulance and chemo not included)
Moment by moment.