I am halfway through.
While I am grateful for this milestone, the halfway mark appears to have brought with it the kind of pain that the doctors and my fellow tonsil cancer survivors have been talking about.
It didn't build gradually, getting a little worse each day. Somehow, the pain slammed in the back door yesterday afternoon, after my radiation treatment, put its feet up and has made itself at home.
It settles over all my emotions, thoughts and words. It cloaks everything in a kind of prickly haze. It makes me squint my eyes, like I'm looking into the bright sun. The kids' images and voices come to me through the pain, as if from afar. I nod and try to smile; I don't want them to know how much I hurt.
Talking is impossible today. Some days are worse than others, and I'm hoping today is just a bad day and that I will have a good day, soon.
The medication helps some, but there is only so much it can do on days like today.
My world is becoming so small, like a pinprick. I don't go anywhere anymore; I'm not driving. I can't speak on the phone comfortably. My universe revolves around getting to treatment and back. I walk wide-eyed through the halls of the hospital, marveling at the pace of everything, mutely taking it all in.
I don't feel well enough to read, even. I think the only reason I can write is that it soothes me, like a balm on a fiery burn. Writing about the pain makes me feel at arm's length from its bite, at least for a while.
Cancer treatment is such a bizarre thing. I read a quote that said something like: "treating cancer is like trying to rid a dog of fleas by beating it with a stick". Every day cancer patients willingly, even eagerly, submit to more pain and discomfort, because we know the pain is chasing away the disease.
But on days like today I wonder how on earth I'm going to get radiated 16 more times.
The other odd thing about the pain is that tomorrow I could wake up and it will be lighter, like a fog dissipating in the bright sun. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to it. It comes and goes as it pleases.
I just realized this is my third post in a row about pain. Clearly, it dominates my little world at the moment, but it isn't the only thing.
There are moments of such tenderness, too. Yesterday, I was lying on my side on the couch, spent and exhausted, trying to summon enough energy to go upstairs. Finn walked up to me and started rubbing my back, ever so gently, and asked, "Does this help, Momma? Does this make you feel bettah?" When I told him it did, the smile that burst forth on his face was priceless.
It's hard for the kids to see me sick, but it is bringing out the caregivers in them, teaching them that they can make a difference - a big one - to someone who is suffering.
And after one of the longer, harder afternoons I've had so far, last night there was another message from Greta waiting for me in my Prayer Box: