2015/10/07: Day 17 - Friends ..and TMI

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Wow, can you believe it. It is the midpoint of the daily treatments. 3/5 chemo’s and then 13/25 radiations, and soon will be starting the 4 brachytherapy treatments

I posted The Divine Miss M’s “Friends” video today in thanks and celebration of those who have helped me through to here.

The friends like J who helped me process through the days when I didn’t know what was ahead. Balancing me. Listening to my vents. Checking in. Folks like MB, who helped me process work items, dumping my frustrations so that I could move into plan to get a team from fear to performance in trying times. J, who listened to me swear. DG, BWD SF JK who came over for a wine night helping me learn how to tell others. SC who popped in to talk about finances ensuring I was doing the right stuff. Friendships built through past history of real conversations.

After my radiologist oncologist appointment, where I finally had a plan, I called a spontaneous wine night at the Kiwi, and a few friends were available: J, JS, BWD, SC. Laughter rang out from table that night, and that laughter continues to be both an example of the strength of community and healing. It probably also would have shocked anyone within earshot to hear what this clutch of crones were laughing about!

So, let me backtrack.

After my gyn-oncologist had told me that surgery was out, I had gone home and reviewed the fact sheets and approved websites about chemoradiation and brachytherapy.

Most information was no major surprise, but, the following kinda stood out.


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Both external beam radiation to the pelvis and brachytherapy can cause scar tissue to form in the vagina. The scar tissue can make the vagina more narrow (called vaginal stenosis), less able to stretch, or even shorter, which can make vaginal intercourse painful. A woman can help prevent this problem by stretching the walls of her vagina several times a week. Although this can be done by having sexual intercourse 3 to 4 times a week, most women find that hard to do during (or in the weeks after) treatment. The other way to stretch out the walls of the vagina is by using a vaginal dilator (a plastic or rubber tube used to stretch out the vagina). A woman getting radiation does not have to start using the dilator during the weeks that radiation is being given, but she should start by 2 to 4 weeks after treatment ends. Because it can take a long time to see the effects of radiation and because the radiation effects are long lasting, it is recommended that the dilator be used indefinitely.
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I must admit to muttering “say what?” but there was lots of things to do and learn, and so it moved off my radar.

A week later, at the first appointment with the radiation oncologist, she went through the diagnosis, why this plan, what it would be like, what the first steps were and the short and long-term symptoms from treatment. Then her message delivery started to slow down. It was hesitant. Unusual to hear hesitation in the voice of this confident young woman. All of a sudden I realized, she was explaining the basic nature of the dilator and was unsure if I was understanding what she was talking about. I looked at her as she paused once more, and I said “you mean, like a dildo”? Lol, that broke the ice. We laughed and from there she advised the hospital provided tools were less than desirable, and I might want to go shopping at a later time.

So, flash forward to the night at the Kiwi with my wonderful friends.

We caught up on each other’s lives and then discussed the treatment plan.

I shared the story of the radiation oncologist and we started to chuckle. Who else would get doctor's orders to use a dildo.

From there it led to a discussion on where to buy one, what kind to get and the stories increased and the laughter became belly bowl laughter. By the end, a fun weekend away in Toronto was planned for post-treatment, to go to “Good For Her” and place our ..ahem..hands in the experts. The trip was named. The laughter continued.

Only friends can do that for you…and I am lucky enough to have some of the best.

I have had more appointments since then where this topic is expanded upon. At one, my gyn-oncologist nurse talked about the utilitarian nature of the supplied dilator and so I shared about my friends plan for a roadtrip. She laughed and applauded them.

At another time, I was reminded how hard it is for some people to go through this information. Women’s body parts are private. We don’t talk about them with others, and few even with good friends. How hard it is for someone in the throws of treatment, elderly, English as a second language, culture conservative regarding women and having to understand what the nurse was trying to tell you. Now picture doing it with your equally unclear spouse in the room.

I am privileged in more ways than just financially and regionally. My treatment is in a country where i speak the language and know the system. I have friends and family close by who have continued to support me, near and far, far and wide. Fun friends let in on the joke who suggested what brand to buy even though they aren’t on the road trip.

Friends who companion me, send a card, share a joke, bring a meal, give me a great political comment, share their story, challenge me, find a way to laugh and even post puppy videos coz I said early on, they make me smile.

So..you gotta have friends….”standing at the end of the road, boys, waiting for my new friends to come, I don’t care if I’m hungry or poor, I got to get me some.”

Thanks all
 

JayneWonders

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 22, 2021
Messages
395
The Divine Miss M ...Back when I was 15, she was belting out "you gotta have friends"....with guts, with class and humour.
I am so lucky to have friends like BWD from my youth, and all of you who I have met along the way.
If you are on my facebook, then you are one of my friends, someone who has been there, laughed, shared a story or a piece of life.
So, enjoy. I somehow don't think we will be in that getup, even for a fundraiser, but, I hope we would laugh and have as wonderful a time.



and my friend BWD suggested this one:
 

JayneWonders

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 22, 2021
Messages
395
I am lucky to have a friend, BWD, that I met in Grade 5, over 45 years ago, who enjoys a laugh, and is a great sport.
She helped to setup the requisite brownie shot, and we had fun with friends. Laughter is the best medicine.

In classic munchie manner, the plate is a plastic lid. Here we have brownies & macaroons (50/50)
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The requisite goofie shot. Yes, there was much laughter and giggles. Yes, there were smiles from others around....and we shared.

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W popped in and enjoyed a brownie.
Good way to spread the joy, and also celebrate the end of chemo #3. Woot. only 8hrs of infusion to go!

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