Monday, August 15, 2011

Radiation Therapy: In the Rear View Mirror (Part 2)

Last week I wrote mostly about the physical effects of radiation therapy.  Today I have a quick update on that, but I really want to share the other amazing experiences I've had in these past couple of months.

First, the medical update:  I'm still tired ... even more so than last week (or the week before), in fact.  I am taking every opportunity to rest, which means that I'm often sleeping late, resting during the day, and still going to bed early.  My skin is continuing to heal.  I had an initial consultation with the medical oncologist, who explained why he recommends a five-year course of tamoxifen.  He believes that my cancer has likely been cured by the surgery and radiation therapy, but tamoxifen will reduce the chance of local recurrence or new occurrence.  Although the medication is not without side effects, I am willing to give it a try.

What has been most amazing about this cancer diagnosis and treatment, however, is how the Lord has worked through it.  Near the beginning of this time, I learned of a well-known pastor who begins his day by praying that the Lord would use him that day.  I can't say that I've done that every day, but I've tried.  When I started going to the cancer center daily, I started talking to other women--not only patients, but also their sisters, cousins, and daughters--in the waiting room.

Keep in mind that I am very introverted.  It would be more natural for me to bury my face in a book than to make conversation with strangers.  But as I prayed that God would use me, I was increasingly aware that many of these women were fearful, anxious, worried, or depressed.  Most had troubles in addition to cancer.

I continued to pray not only that God would use me, but also that He would give me the right words to say.  I found myself speaking up and saying words that didn't sound like my own.  (I realize that, if this has never happened to you, the idea of letting God speak through me probably sounds a little wacky.  I get that.)  I had opportunities to give comfort and encouragement, and I was blessed to do so.  In the midst of all my trials, I was excited--even overjoyed--that God chose to use me.

Saying Goodbye to the radiation therapists, the nurses, and my fellow patients on my last day was bittersweet.  While I'm happy that I don't need the daily treatments anymore, I genuinely miss seeing these women.  I am confident that we were all brought together for a reason, however, and I also believe that the Lord will use my experiences for something positive.  It has been said that God does not waste our pain, and I wholeheartedly believe that!

As I was writing this post, I came across the website for Don't Waste the Pain, a ministry of The Navigators.  The site's mission is outlined here.  I have not read much of it, but I am including the link in case you are interested.

Gallery of Favorites

image source:  Flickr user John Starnes


  1. i am so glad this is in the past...
    but i know you were put there for a reason..
    hugs to you..
    hope you get back to being better and your old self soon

  2. Hi Melissa, God Bless you girl! I spent lots of hours over five years in waiting rooms. Looking back, I can so relate to God speaking through us.

    I am overjoyed to learn of your excellent prognosis! I know several who took tamoxifen as post surgery therapy. It worked well with minimal side effects as I remember.

    You, my friend are AMAZING :)

  3. Wow - He pushed you way outside of your comfort zone - He is very cool, is He not?

  4. So glad you've shared your journey with us. How neat that the Lord has used it, too. I'm sure you've been a blessing! Take care.

  5. I was really touched by this post. It is amazing to see how God used you to help others during this time! If you have a chance I would love for you to link it to Gallery of Favorites.

  6. What a wonderful gift you gave to those you ministered to. Thank you for sharing. And reminding me to look around and to visit with those God has placed in my path.

  7. This is such a wonderfully touching post. I admire you so much for using a very difficult time personally for the good of others, and allowing God to use you in that way. I am so very glad that your treatment was successful, and I am also glad you are taking the opportunity to rest. My mother had radiation therapy many years ago, and I remember the challenging side effects she experienced. I don't think everyone realises how painful and upsetting the burns can be. You have been through a lot, and your body needs time to recover, do please be patient with yourself. Thank you for sharing this post with the Gallery of Favorites - I am sure it will be a benefit and a blessing to everyone who reads it.


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