It's Friday, Jan. 17, and today is the biggest day yet of The Process: It's the last day of the last week of my radiation treatments.
Actually, the whole week has been an incredible ride.
It started on Monday with a small-but-important victory having to do with my prescription painkillers.
I kept the pills with me every moment of every day since I picked them up from the pharmacy seven weeks ago just in case they were needed. On Monday I left them home for the first time. With only five more treatments to go, I decided the uncomfortably sore throat I had been told was an almost certain-to-happen side effect of the radiation wasn't going to happen after all.
It was actually a surprisingly joyous moment.
On Wednesday, The BTW and I hosted a buffet breakfast for the folks I have come to know so well the past two months at the radiation oncology department. After seeing the way donuts made everyone smile when I brought them in once a week while I was getting radiated, I thought that bagels, fruit, pastries, juice and coffee would really make everyone's day.
The spread we had waiting for everyone when they got to the hospital that morning worked exactly as The BTW and I hoped. There were smiles, hugs and lots of selfies. What made it especially nice was that the some of the other patients and their families joined us. That meant there were even more smiles.
Then there was Friday, my much-anticipated, absolutely longed-for and can't-get-here-soon-enough final radiation treatment.
The session ended at 7:28 a.m.; I walked out of the hospital nine minutes later.
The BTW tells me that she felt some serious anxiety when she left her oncologist's office for the last time before switching to a twice-yearly maintenance schedule. She wanted to continue the more frequent visits as long as possible.
Me? As nice as everyone at the hospital had been over the past eight weeks, I couldn't get out of there fast enough.
This is a continuing series of blog posts by Stan Collender about his experience fighting cancer. "The Process" Stan is describing began last August.