For most of us time flies. How is it already Halloween and a month until Thanksgiving? But it doesn’t fly when you are undergoing cancer treatments. It seems to us, and especially Kelly, it was a lifetime ago when she turned 21 and twelve days later her tumor was discovered. Plans for the future were replaced by dealing with the present. Since May, time has crawled by!
But now, Kelly has come to the end of the scheduled therapies. She couldn’t be more ready! At the Proton Center, completing treatments calls for a special ritual. A large, heavy brass gong is suspended at the back of the atrium and when rung, is capable of a startling deep, robust clang (perhaps you’ve heard it if you were within a 10 mile radius). The ceremony begins with a strike of the gong by the one who has completed Radiation. The doctors, nurses, techs and waiting room patients cease what they are doing to join the claps and smiles in recognition of this momentous event. A poem is read (see below) and the patient makes a short speech. Most get chocked up as they recount their journeys and it is a touching reminder that there an end to all this. Hugs, good-byes and pictures follow the heartfelt words. Some patients have quite a sizable support group who have come for this memorable occasion. Kelly, who avoids attention at all costs, had stated from the beginning she will not strike the gong nor make any speeches. To ensure we don’t persuade her or try to take a picture, she planned to drive herself that day. When Friday came, there were mechanical issues causing her 3:30pm appointment to move to 5:50pm. As luck would have it, she seemed to be the last one scheduled, and at 7:15pm when her treatment was completed, the waiting room was empty and she slipped out the exit before anyone could notice. Kelly needs no fanfare or ritual to mark this day as significant.
Most side effects will linger for the next 1-2 weeks although the fatigue will persist much longer, but now Kelly can REST! Rest from the daily trips to proton therapy. Rest to allow her body, mind, and spirit to recover from the weakened state caused by harsh treatments and endless appointments. Watching her journey has been heartbreaking for her parents, her siblings, Blake, extended families and all those who love her. None of us can know the agony of actually enduring it, but all of us can rejoice that rest, recovery and a renewed optimism will now be her main focus. Thanks be to God!
This week Kelly will see her oncologist at Medical City, who will schedule her PET scan and explain what is next on the horizon.
Exodus 33:14, The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” (NIV)
Poem read at the end of treatments:
Ring this bell, Three times well
It’s toll to clearly say,
My Treatment’s done
This course is run
And I am on my way!
by Irve Le Moyne