OK, it wasn’t a gong – that would have been cool. It is a small bell with the inscription:
Ring the bell three times well, its toll to clearly say,
My treatment’s done, this course is run, and I am on my way!
They let you ring the bell after your final radiation treatment. The staff who have walked with me through 35 treatments gathered around and cheered me on. It was s special moment for Peggy and me. We took pictures and videos and exchanged hugs with these special people.
Physically, I haven’t felt any different today. After all, to my body it is just another day of being attacked by the death ray. And by those standards this has been a very hard day. But, in a couple of days, my body will realize that things are different. The attack has ended.
Here is the radiation machine, that’s me on the left.
Psychologically, it is a very different day. I can shift from dealing with side effects to healing up. I look forward to the terrible sore throat going away. I look forward to the end of weeks of nausea. I can look forward to eating actual food as I begin to regain my ability to taste. I look forward to all of this helping me regain my strength and stamina. I look forward to public speaking in front of people again. I look forward to working in the yard. And, of course, I look forward to getting out in my boat and fishing again.
What about the long run? Well, this is the hard part. They won’t do a PET scan until some of this healing has taken place. They can’t get an accurate reading if there is still inflammation and healing going on. So it will be somewhere between 8 and 12 weeks before that happens. Only then will they have an idea if the tumor is gone. Even then, I will keep going back for scans for a few years before they will talk about being “cancer free”.
But for now, I can look forward to sleeping in late tomorrow morning. No appointments, no procedures, no poking, no prodding, no infusing, no radiating. I feel good about that!