Yesterday I finished my 10 radiation treatments.

The doctors, nurses, and technicians all celebrated with me. I suggested that they set off fireworks, remarking that it would be easy to do digitally for all patients undergoing their final treatment. When you have constant contact with the medical team responsible for your therapy, it is hard to just walk away with a thank you and hand-shake. I took some of my photography notecards and told each person with whom I’d had contact to select one they liked. It was received enthusiastically, even with the male doctors! Hugs, smiles, and good wishes were shared in parting.

Then came the tough part — the catheter removal. Dr. Patel, the nurse Eileen, and the representative from the company which provides the catheter were present.  The company rep had also come to Dr. Dupree’s office when she put the catheter in.  Nan had accompanied me, and she was permitted to be present during the procedure; she drove because I was told to take pain meds to help me tolerate the catheter removal . . . little did I know! When Dr. Patel began the procedure, it quickly became obvious that this was not going to be an easy removal. The reason was because the catheter had been in for TWO weeks instead of the normal one week. Both internal and external healing had occurred around the catheter, and it just did not want to budge. Needless to say, the pain was excruciating. The nurse and Nan were both holding me tightly in support, and Dr. Patel was trying his best to remove it without causing me additional pain.  Ultimately he had to numb me with lidocaine — frankly, it didn’t seem to make any difference (although I’m sure it did). Eventually, with more manipulation, Dr. Patel was finally able to pop it out.  The company rep said that it was the most difficult extraction he had ever observed.

Butterfly sutures were put into place, and the site was bandaged (very well, I might add!). I cannot express the tremendous feeling of relief I had as we walked out of the hospital.

Technically my treatments are completed.  I think it is a bit ironic and perhaps a little symbolic that I learned of my breast cancer diagnosis on September 11th and ended the process of surgeries and treatments on Election Day, November 6th. I have follow-up appointments with Dr. DuPree on Nov. 27th and with Dr. Patel on January 28th. I know that I will continue to process this experience, and I promise to continue to share. I have been told by friends and readers of this blog that they are recommending it to friends and acquaintances who are grappling with their own cancer diagnoses.  If anything I’ve written, felt, or shared helps someone else as he/she navigates their own way through cancer, I am grateful.

Now it is time to move forward, albeit as a different person.

. . . and so it is


10 thoughts on “forward

  1. Kathy Winters says:

    I am flinching just reading about your experience with the catheter removal, Debbie. But I’m celebrating the end of your treatment!

  2. mgrookett says:

    Great news!!!!! Well not about the removal but everything else Now you are invited to join the very exclusive club of breast cancer survivers. We don’t just let everyone in but only a very special group of women who have taken this journey which does change your life . Welcome to the club! Peggy

    Sent from my iPhone

  3. Bille Jean says:

    A time to celebrate for sure! You are so brave, strong, and beautiful!
    Blessing to you Deb.

  4. Nadine Simms says:

    Nice job, Debbie. You articulated this “event” well and came through with flying colors! Good job and I am so happy to hear you are doing so well.

  5. Fran says:

    Deb, You are a real trooper! I had chills reading about the removal & joy reading about the celebration!!! Different person – but always our special Debbie! XO

  6. Lynn Jendrowski says:

    Debbie, I am so glad that you are finished with chemo. I wish that it did not take so long. Enjoy being catheter free, I am sure you will. Let the healing begin. Lynn XXOOXX

  7. Dolores Esposito says:

    So sorry you had to go through this pain, and I thank the Good Lord your prognosis is wonderful! I feel so grateful to you for sharing your experiences and struggles the last few months of uncertainty. You show tremendous strength and inspiration to all who reads your updates. Thanks for sharing. Take good care and rest well, Dolores

  8. Ruth Rudolph says:

    You are a fabulous photographer, but you should seriously consider writing a book. How beautifully you expressed all of your experiences. I felt as if I were right there with you, feeling all of your pain, fears, and finally relief that it was over. Thank you for sharing these intimate details with all of us. Hugs, Ruth

  9. Malou Walther says:

    You are so generous to share these details Debbie. And, hurrah that it is over.


  10. Loretta Shatt says:

    So glad this is all behind you. Your photos and blog have been wonderful. Thanks for sharing this most moving personal

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