During last week’s Art Therapy session I continued with my Strength and Energy masterpiece. In the previous session I had ripped the painting into little pieces, which I know re-assembled mixing colour and white paper pieces and sticking onto a new piece of paper completely randomly. In a first step in then looked like this:
In a second step I then continued with writing phrases, thoughts, questions and ideas on to the reassembled painting, whatever really popped into my head in that particular moment. In a way I entitled the painting “The Warrior of the Pen rebuilding her life”, but that so far is only a working title for me. At the moment I am dealing with questions like: What are my dreams? What are my ambitions? What is giving me strength (writing is a definite answer to that)? What is normality? How is the post-cancer life going to be like? I know that the word crept up as well when I worked away on my piece.
I know that the exercise of strength and Energy is not over yet, something is missing still, and it is not finished, far from it. By now I am thinking that there is not enough red, orange and yellow on it. Maybe I should repaint it with a combination of these colours…. Food for thought.
After 6 months of treatment, involving surgery, 6 cycles of chemotherapy and 25 cycles of radiotherapy, it was time to celebrate. On April 23rd, on my last day of radiotherapy, I had my own private little “Yeah, I did it”, celebration. Over the last few months, Miss Crémant, had been spoiling me with gifts, ranging from soap and shower gels, to chocolate, to a little bottle of crémant, which I had saved for a special occasion. So last Tuesday, in the evening, I opened that piccolo bottle and had a glass of flavoured sparkling wine with snippets of 22 carat gold foil and a good measure of cassis liqueur. It was great and I felt victorious. On Wednesday, the celebrations continued: after encouraging words and hugs from colleagues we toasted to my good health with kir royal before grabbing some fair food at a small market, set up to accompany the religious pilgrimages to the cathedral in Luxembourg at the moment. In the evening I had asked some of my friends to join me in my favourite bar for sushi and cocktails. The bar has a little garden area with outdoor seating, which was open due to the good weather. I was showered with a few gifts: a lovely bouquet, in a red-yellow-orange colour scheme, of my favourite flowers (roses and gerbera) and a pair of lovely blue earrings, which matched my outfit of the day perfectly (blue cardigan and blue headscarf). I had a great evening with lots of laughter and smiles.
For the rest of the week I just enjoyed the fact that the daily trips, which had become routine over the last 5 weeks, were over and that I was able to work full time again from the office. I have been soaking up some sun while having ice-cream and this weekend I have been catching up on some much needed sleep. So all is good so far.
The Melody of Radiotherapy – Epilogue
This is hopefully my last entry for this chapter called The Melody Radiotherapy. So what could I possibly write here now that I am done with radiotherapy? Well I thought I would like to share with you all my playlists which have helped me get through the last 5 weeks. Thank you to all of my friends for their music suggestions!!! My favourite tunes are in bold. (Oh and a little note on the end – one of my friends made me a mix CD with some of my favourite tunes from my playlists – how AWESOME is that!!!!! Thank you!!¨)
||Diane Warwick – That’s what Friends are for
||Eminem feat. Lil Wayne – Not afraid
||Kris Menace – e-love
||Steve Tyrell – On the sunny side of the street
||Jack’s Mannequin – Swim
||Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros – Home
||Coldplay – Life in Technicolour II
||Tim Buckley – Goodbye and Hello
||Jon Lord– Pictured Within
||Simon and Garfunkel – The sound of silence
||Juan Luis Guerra– Las Avispas
||Tone Damli – Butterflies
||Frou Frou – Let Go
||Sirius Plan – Call me (Blondie cover)
||Shakira – Gypsy
||PJ Harvey – Horses in my dream
||Adele – Someone like you
||The Jayhawks – Smile
||James Morrison feat. Jessie J – Up
||Mumford and Sons – I Will Wait
||Silbermond– Das Beste
||Counting Crows – Mr. Jones
||Christina Aguilera– Fighter
||Joni Mitchell – The Circle Game
||Fun – Carry on
||R. Kelly– I believe I can fly
||Spirit of the West– Home for a rest
||Melissa Etheridge – I run for life
||The Script feat. will.i.am– Hall of Fame
||JD Samson & MEN – Off our backs
||Survivor– Eye of the Tiger
||Azealia Banks – 212
||Jet– She’s a Genius
||Amanda Palmer – Map of Tasmania
||The Mighty Mighty Bosstones– Someday I suppose
||Dizzie Rascal – Bassline Junkie
||They Might Be Giants– No One Knows My Plan
||Billy Currington – People are Crazy
||Destiny’s Child– Survivor
||Faithless – Insomnia
||Thais – Meditation
||Bee Gees– More than a woman
||Regina Spektor– Fidelity
||Gloria Gaynor – I will survive
||Regina Spektor – Ne me quitte pas
||Celtic Woman – You raise me up
||Of Monsters and Men – Dirty Paws
|Mumford and Sons – Lover of the Light
|Seasons of Love from the movie Rent
|Kings of Leon – Be Somebody
|Kings of Leon – My Sex is on Fire
|Levellers – What a Beautiful Day
|Coldplay – Every Teardrop is a Waterfall
|Dire Straits – Romeo and Juliet
|Sim Redmond Band – Life is Water
|Israel – IZ – Kamakawiwo’ole – Somewhere over the Rainbow
|Lenny Kravitz – Believe
|The Rembrandts – I will be there for you
|Kate Voegele – Sweet Silver Lining
|Mozart – Divertimento no.1
|Silbermond – Irgendwas bleibt
|Bruno Mars – When I was your Man
After a much needed nap, a sleepy warrior, put on her pink battle shirt and, accompanied by her mum, who is her bravest solider in this battle, headed to the National Radiotherapy Centre for the last and final cycle of her radiotherapy. I was greeted by a cheerful and beaming secretary with the lovely words “This is your final session Miss Raspberry”. After having completed the paperwork, I presented her with a box of Belgian chocolates to thank her and her colleagues for the warm reception I had received every single working day for the past 5 weeks. Their smiles had made such a difference to this annoying daily hospital routine. The procedure today was like every day. Red light. Green light. Click. Clack. Red light. Green light. Click Clack. No funny ginger-lemongrass smell though. A final photograph was taken of my radiated skin for my medical folder. Then I was out again, with a reminder to go see my radiotherapist for a final consultation, and the words “Bonne Continuation”, which means as much as good luck with the remainder of my treatment. I did my silly happy dance in the changing room, and looking at myself in the mirror, all I could see was a massively big smile on my face. The doctor was pleased with how my skin looks, all normal he said, and just added that I need to come back in a year’s time for a check-up. I got that appointment from another secretary who then sent me off with the words “We really hope not to see you again. Get well soon.” I really hope that I won’t have to see them either again, unless it is for an annual check-up. Then I was in the taxi and all I could think of was “It is OVER. Round 3 is OVER.” A sleepy warrior is back home now and is treating herself to a few Manon Blanc Café from Leonidas, her favourite Belgian chocolates with a light coffee-flavoured fresh butter cream filling topped with a roasted hazelnut and covered in white chocolate. Maybe the warrior should crack open a bottle of bubbly as well, if she does not fall asleep trying to do it….
Outward Journey: Celtic Woman– You raise me up
Return Journey: Of Monsters and Men– Dirty Paws
Tonight I travelled. I didn’t go very far. In fact I only took a step, but discovered a new universe altogether. All I did was walk onto the terrace of my childhood home – I only did one single step – from the kitchen to the terrace, but it was like I entered a completely new world. Miss Lovely had brought to my attention that a meteor shower could possibly be seen tonight –this was a chance not to be missed. Unfortunately the sky was too cloudy and the moon to bright, so I could not see anything. With each shooting star I had hoped to release a wish, a dream, or a hope. It was not meant to be, so I will find another way to set them free. However sitting outside, wrapped up in my blanket, I felt like I had taken my leave of absence from a busy medical world for a short time. I looked up the sky and could see a few stars, sparkling like diamonds, and the moon was so wonderfully bright, in the distance I could see the lights from the industrial estate, and hear the noises from the cars on the country road close by and on the motorway a bit further away. I held my glass of wine, took a sip, and enjoyed this particular moment, trying to take it all in, not thinking about yesterday, or today, or even tomorrow, but just enjoying the now. Our magnolia tree looked lovely in the background, so I walked over to it, and leaned against it. I touched the flowers and stroked the petals (a rubbery texture), the leaves (velvety) and the branches (a very interesting texture, hard to describe, not like a tree at all). I held the flowers in my hand – they are really big and there was only enough space in my palm to fit one. I even smelled the flowers – an understated sweetness and softness, yet not overwhelming at all. The magnolia tree is my tree – strong and beautiful. The night was cool and fresh, but it did not make me freeze. I remember taking a really deep breath, let the air fill my lungs, and then exhaled… all was good. I closed my eyes and let my mind wonder…
After a fun filled weekend, involving dinner with a friend from elementary school, wine tasting and a trip to a museum in Germany (which left no time for blogging even though my little notebook is overflowing with notes for new writing material by now), I was back to the hospital today. This was my second-last radiotherapy session, how cool is that?
In the waiting room I got chatting to a very admirable man who is his driving his partner to the radiotherapy centre every day. This is what I call true love. (I will be making a mental note of this – the bar for my future other half just got raised quite high). In our very brief conversation we realised that we both live in the same commune (or municipality), so just a stone’s throw away from each other. We both also frequent the same cocktail bar/restaurant in this particular little town, so he suggested we should all get together for a drink at some point and exchange numbers for that matter – so I happily provided my details. I guess it must be incredibly hard for him to see his beloved partner being sick and undergoing treatment. I was really glad to have been given the opportunity to talk to him today, I think that way too often we forget to ask how the army of fighters around the main warrior are doing… So dear family, friends and “lovers”… How are you doing?
In view of tomorrow I have already been practising my happy dance for my radiotherapy graduation – I looked really silly but I so did not care J Uuuh and eating ice-creams on my cab journey home in the sun is becoming my new favourite hobby…
So what has my evening got lined up for me? I have the very exciting task of filling out my evaluation questionnaire for the hospital (grin grin grin), before I intend to reading two plays for my theatre group meeting tomorrow (yes I do have a life outside of my treatment) while sipping a glass of wine on the terrace…
1 more radiotherapy session to go…. Only 24 hours left… I am happy… so many good little things have been happening the last few days… Life is wonderful
Outward Journey: Gloria Gaynor– I will survive
Return Journey: Regina Spektor– Ne me quitte pas
Radiant. That is how one my colleagues described me today. He was completely serious, and was not playing with words nor being sarcastic; he reassured me. I felt so very happy today, for no particular reason. And I guess that happiness came from deep within and was able to shine through, bringing out my real beauty.
2 more radiotherapy sessions to go….
Outward Journey: Bee Gees– More than a woman
Return Journey: Regina Spektor– Fidelity
Additional Songs: Silbermond – Irgendwas bleibt and Bruno Mars – When I was your Man
Laughter. Stupid, silly laughter, is by far the best medicine for the soul. On my way home from hospital trip 2 – I had an appointment with the breast cancer nurse today – was just utterly hilarious. The taxi driver, another fellow warrior and I laughed so much that we all turned red like tomatoes. Our conversation evolved around on how the other two could best set me up on a date with my favourite taxi driver who is incredibly good looking, cute, sexy and hot, and whom I have a very mild crush on. My poor tummy was aching from so much laughter. Absolutely wonderful
A glass, or maybe two, of Kir Royal, which is an aperitif consisting of crémant with cassis (for my non-Luxembourgish friends this is sparkling wine with red currant liqueur), is very good medicine for the mind too, trust me J Every single day has got a silver lining on the horizon, you just need to look for it. And if it is not there, then you just got to paint it in the sky.
Only 3 more sessions to go. I can see that finish line. Round 3 of my battle is coming to an end. I am nearly there, I just need one last effort…
Outward Journey: Radiohead– Nude
Return Journey: Thais – Meditation
Stupid administration and bureaucracy really got me down yesterday. But how could I be down when the sun was shining?; the receptionist at the radiotherapy centre asked me. When I explained my reasons, she was very understanding, and gave me a really good piece of advice: take this journey step by step, deal with one thing at a time, and you will see that everything will get sorted out. Compartmentalising, is what I think my friend Miss Lovely, would call it. Compartmentalising is good, I think.
I had to wait around 40 minutes for my taxi to come and pick me up from hospital, and I was beginning to get grumpy, when a little voice in my head told me “Hey, hold on a second, you need to stop being in this crappy mood. Do something to change it!” So off I went to the newspaper agent, got myself an ice-cream (applying one of my life lessons, namely the one that Ice-cream makes everything better) and listened to Mozart’s Divertimento No.1 from my backup song list. Classical music has a really soothing effect on me, so it was exactly what I needed.
The effects of radiotherapy are really starting to kick in – I was so tired last night that I fell asleep on the couch while watching an episode from a crime series. And this morning I had troubles getting out of bed, I was so sleepy. So I applied another life lesson: Listen to your body, and stayed in a bed for as long as I needed, giving my body as much sleep as it required.
Outward Journey: Destiny’s Child– Survivor
Return Journey: Faithless – Insomnia
Extra: Mozart – Divertimento no.1
I had been working on my next entry for my Travel Memories section, entitled “Enjoying the Good Life in Boston II”, which I had wanted to post this week, but then I read the news. In the light of recent events, the explosions at the Boston Marathon on 15 April 2013, I thought that it would more appropriate if I held onto the aforementioned post for a little while longer.
Boston was my favourite destination of the US-leg of my journey. I have some wonderful fond memories of my 5 days in this city: I remember walking carelessly around the streets, following the Freedom Trail, strolling through the Back Bay neighbourhood, not worrying about tomorrow. This seems like a distant dream now. The bombings occurred in the neighbourhood where I had been staying for 3 nights… that thought just makes me shiver. In Boston I was met with hospitality, joie de vivre, friendliness and helpfulness, making my stay there very special. The explosions happened on Patriot’s Day, a public holiday in Massachusetts where everyone is out an about, lining the streets to cheer the runners on or having BBQs and a beer with friends, generally having a good time. I cannot believe that this atmosphere was destroyed with such a senseless act of violence…
I went to bed last night and I did something which I have not done in a very long time – I started to pray – for my friends in Boston, their family and their friends; for complete strangers, praying that God might give them strength, hope and courage in this dark hour.
Boston – this post is dedicated to you – with all my love and sympathy.