Saturday, February 1, 2014


My last radiation was Wednesday, January 29, so  I stopped by Caramanda's Bakery for an assortment of cupcakes for the staff at St. Joseph Radiation-Oncology.  They somehow managed to make me feel safe and comfortable while lying topless on a gurney and having beams of high-energy radiation penetrate my chest and underarm.  Of course, I didn't feel any pain at the time, except for my shoulder.  I never did get used to the pain when I grasped the bar over my head. I would arrive at 10:00 each day, except for Mondays.  The kind ladies at St. Joe Radiation-Oncology suggested that I schedule my Monday appointments for 1:30 so I would have more time with Jeff and Buddy over the weekend.  

"Good morning, Mrs. Damron," Gina would say each morning, with a big smile.   "Please oh please call me Ann."   She said she couldn't possibly. "Ok, Ms. Willis," I said in a deep formal tone.  We would both laugh every time.  Seeing her big smile, gleaming with perfectly white teeth, gave me no choice but to reciprocate. It was a great way to start the day.

It was my morning ritual for 33 weekdays.  I would arrive at 10:00, chat with Gina for a couple minutes while she placed a hospital (ID) band on my arm.  I'd walk to the dressing room, undress from the waist up, put on a purplish colored gown, and grab a seat in the small room beside the radiation room.  They always had a big unfinished jigsaw puzzle on a table in the waiting room. Being somewhat of a germaphobe these days, I never indulged.  

Cristi or Susie, the radiation therapists, would call me back to the radiation room.  They'd always ask me about my weekend or what I did the night before.  They seemed to remember all the trivial things we had talked about and would mention them in visits a week or two later.  We shared photos of our children and talked about shopping and restaurants.  Although I knew why I was there, it was a relief to not mention the C-word.  

Cristi and Susie both have sweet baby voices.  It made me wonder if it might be a job requirement to work there.  "We have something for you."  It was a graduation certificate, signed on the back, by my new friends.  I asked if they would let me take a photo of the staff for my blog.  Although my doctor, Dr. Matar (rhymes with tater),  wasn't there, Dr. Matter (rhymes with otter), who has cared for and treated me several times came out of his office for the photo.  

Before handing me the diploma, Cristi said, "We know how much you like Victorian (they read my blog)."
Dr. Matar

The friendly and professional staff of St. Joseph Radiation-Oncology, including the physicists who calibrate the machines.  Dr. Matter is on the far right. In case you're wondering, it's not a requirement for all my male doctors to be handsome.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it. 
 I was at the Bob-o-Link location that day, so unfortunately Dr. Matar, Gina, and Beth aren't pictured.  Also, thanks to Vickie and Sarah, also Radiation Therapists, who were also very kind to me.  
Cristi, Susie, and me striking a silly pose in front of the beautiful quilt that Susie's mother made years ago.  Her father donated it to the office after she passed away three years ago.

They gave me a note with their names on it so I could "friend" them on Facebook.  If you're reading this, Cristi or Susie, please click on and add me as a friend.because I lost that Post-it note.  

As soon as the last photo was taken, I immediately started crying.  They were tears of happiness to re-gain my sense of normalcy at home and work.  Tears of gratitude for the clarity to see who truly cared about me.    They were tears of relief that it's over and tears of fear that it's not.    I was a bundle of nervous energy.  I sobbed to Cristi and Susie, "I pray it was enough."