Monday, January 11, 2010

Post Treatment


“Post Treatment” is not a new cold cereal packed with protons (even though it could easily be confused with Post Toasties). In reality it is learning how to land after 9 weeks of radiation treatment and 11 weeks from being away from home. Looking back it is almost surreal. I know for patients that live near the medical center and carry on their normal daily routines during treatment this may not be the case. But for me, there was this emotional withdrawal I did not anticipate. I was definitely ready to be done with the “balloons” but not the relationships. In our final “exit meeting” Lynette prepared us for the medical side of post treatment, but what about the sudden arrival of this emotional wrinkle?

This week I have been going through a number of photographs I took during this adventure for the purpose of sending them off to some of my proton pals. I was reminded what a special time this was in my life. Chances are I will not see very many of them again in my lifetime, but there will be this permanent memory of a shared journey. Being treated for prostate cancer almost took a backseat to the rest of the experience.

I remember when I first arrived at the Loma Linda Medical Center I had the opportunity to attend my first Wednesday night support group meeting the day of my first balloon. The facilitator, Lynn Martell, made the statement that “we” were not to worry about our cancer while we were here because “they” were taking care of that angle. Our focus was to be on the rest of the healing process and the many opportunities that surrounded us. What was interesting was that without really thinking about that statement, it naturally happened. Probably not so much so with the “locals,” but for many of us “pilgrim patients” a unique bonding takes place.

This did not take place on its own. A choice was made to make the most of what could be otherwise construed as a negative situation. I am sure there are those who go through this by “holing up and waiting it out.” Having my bride of 36 years with me through this whole voyage guaranteed that would not be the case for us. We wanted to take advantage of each day and the opportunities that awaited us … and that we did.

In reflection this all revolved around relationships. Interaction with the staff at the medical center stands out as a significant part of the healing process. From the reception rooms to the treatment rooms these people became more than a name tag. They are your allies, your friends. At the Drayson Center you are made to feel like family. We have become “Friends” on Facebook with a number of the staff. At the Wednesday night support group you are part of the “community.” Lynn, Patti and Clyde make sure of that. All along the way you touch other people’s lives and they yours.

What now? Do we let this all get stored on a shelf in our memories or do we plug it in and use it? My vote is to keep these relationships active for as long as possible. Fortunately with modern technology it is easier today to stay in touch than ten years ago. But it is not automatic … it has to be intentional. Be the one to take the initiative. You will be glad you did. If you are at the beginning of your journey with prostate cancer, remember you are not alone. Get plugged in.

2 comments:

  1. John, so great to know you guys are back. I figured you must be but just remembered to check your blog.

    I sure bet it is tough to be that involved with a great group of people and then just leave all of a sudden. I wondered what that would be like.

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  2. John,
    Amen to getting plugged in. This thing is a marathon, not a sprint, and it's much better to be running in a group than on your own. And knowledge is most definitely power. I've learned so much from others, including yourself, since starting the same challenge as you, on the same day! We're taking different routes, but you're allowed to on this particular marathon - I expect our destination will be the same, however: recovery.
    Have you had you first PSA yet? Think of it as a time-check - not to be feared, but a guide to tell you you're on schedule - OK enough lame running analogies!
    God bless.

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