Martin and I arrived at the hospital for the radiation beam verification appointment on July 15.
The waiting room was packed with people, so many people that some had to stand. Some wore treatment gowns and pants, some did not. We learned later that the radiation machines at another site were not working, so those patients were being treated at our site. I flinched inwardly at the busyness, the strangeness, the unknown, the large radiation machines with their moving parts.
My first day of radiation therapy was the next day. When Martin and I arrived, he parked in the special parking lot, and made sure the parking pass was visible through the glass of the windshield. As we walked across the parking lot, I felt a surge of anxiety. I was starting radiation therapy! I felt I was in an unreal and unknown place. Martin looked at me, and then reached over and held my hand. We reached the building entrance, the glass doors slid open automatically, and we walked through the lobby.
Then the wooden doors to the radiation treatment area opened, and we walked past the doors, down the hall to the reception area. As we walked into the waiting room, my anxiety grew. I checked in, on this first day of treatment, and the waiting room was calm and quiet as I headed down the hall to change. When I came out, I saw Martin sitting by the fish tank. I sat next to him, and held his hand.
Suddenly, I didn't feel quite so anxious. The other people in the room nodded and smiled at me, and I immediately felt better and stronger. I noted who had the treatment gowns and pants on - the patients, and those who did not - the loved ones of the patients.
As the days of treatment went by, we got to know the others in the room, both those in treatment, and their supporters, spouses and family members. I began to realize we were not alone; we were all on the same journey. They would nod and smile as I checked in, and I often found Martin talking with them when I came out of the changing room, and when I returned from the treatments. We waved and smiled, and said goodbye as we left.
We came to know and care for those who shared the same journey with us - Anne, Lisa, and Eva. Each morning, Monday through Friday, we asked each other questions, asked with concern and love: "How are you today?" "How are you feeling?" "Did you have a good weekend?" We grew to know and care about the wonderful people who started each day with us.
Anne brought life into the room, shared ideas, and assured us that we were all going to be okay.
Lisa shared true concern for others, always positive with affirmations of faith, and recognition of individual strengths.
Eva was quiet, full of love and support, and her concern and thoughtfulness were expressed in her eyes and in her smile.
Sometimes we shared happy, lively conversations, and other times we were more quiet and serious, and the companionship was shared each morning. We all completed our treatments within the same week - and there will always be a special place in our hearts for the lovely, loving, generous, hope-filled friends who shared our journey.
Thank you, dear friends Anne, Lisa, and Eva.