Someday We’ll Look Back On This And It Will All Seem Funny

Somehow I doubt it will ever seem funny, but realizing that today was radiation #19 of 20 made looking back on this a reality.  I’m really and truly almost done with my treatments.  A seven-month journey from that initial and just “routine” mammogram.  And a course change, from a planned season of a family trip to St. John, the Boston Marathon, Eagleman, IRONMAN Lake Placid and the hope of racing the IRONMAN World Championship again.

I am so grateful that my husband Bryan and I got to make another trip to St. John, this time with our daughter Mary and our son-in-law Ryan, before the devastation which was caused by Hurricane Irma.  But it makes it that much sadder to see the beautiful places we visited so recently.  Most are now destroyed, and we are still wondering about many of the wonderful people we met.

I’ve kept up training to the best extent that I could, and I’m finally seeing some of it working.  My paces in everything are improving, my heart rate is still higher than it used to be but it’s much better — I don’t immediately go to the 130s and 140s before I’m even making an effort.  I haven’t done a race at all this season and I miss it!  I have two events planned for when I’m in Kona — I’ve signed up for the 2.4 mile practice swim on the IRONMAN course (not a race) and the PATH 10K.  That won’t be much of a “race” for me but it has a start line and a finish line, and I’m looking forward to it!

Radiation has been interesting — a total of 20 treatments plus a set-up and a “practice” appointment.  What’s entertaining is that for as sophisticated as the equipment is, I was “marked” with a sharpie marker and some clear stickers in four spots on Thursday, to pinpoint where my targeted radiation is.  Isn’t there something more sophisticated that could be done other than this?  My skin was fine, up until Friday.  That’s when my skin looked badly sunburn and started itching terribly.  The nurse told me today that the side effects could and probably will worsen over the next two weeks before they start to improve.  Tomorrow is my last radiation treatment.  I hope it’s the last time I ever walk into this room again!

img_0118img_0117Tomorrow is also my follow-up appointment with my medical oncologist, Dr. Tiffany Traina.  We will discuss what options I have for continued preventative treatment (not many, since I’m “triple negative”) and what my ongoing plan will be.

So, that means that in many ways one major leg of this journey ends tomorrow.  Just writing that has made me cry — so many emotions. Joy, that it’s over.  Fear that it will never really be over.  Relief that I get my life back and that my schedule no longer revolves around chemo and radiation.  Annoyance with the effects of the chemo on my nails — losing toenails I’ve dealt with but losing fingernails?  Never.  And I’ve developed issues with my fingernails — separating from the nail bed, and a fungus and infection underneath.  I’ll lose most of them, and it will take 6 months for them to grow back.  First world problems for sure, but not attractive and potentially very painful.  The thought of hitting a lane line has me committed to wearing paddles for all my swims till this is fixed.    Yup, more first world problems.  But, reminders that there has been a major bump in the road in my life.  I’m sure it will all pass as quickly and as slowly as the rest of this journey has.

Some of my favorite messages lately have been from my friend’s children.  From 5-year-old Celia:

“Is Moira going to be ok?
Yes, she’s gonna be awesome
Yes, she had no hair, she still looks pretty though.”

And from 6-year-old Lily:

“Lily, my hair is growing back.  But I don’t understand why it’s silver 😉
Hmm, well I bet it will be silver for a little while and then it will be blonde again.”