Throughout my cancer journey, I spent a lot of time in waiting rooms and they were all the same.
You were given a clip board with forms to complete, moved into more waiting rooms until
eventually you got to see the doctor. The biggest stress was around parking, did I put enough
money in to cover the time I might have to wait? Will I get a fine? Should I go back and add more
money to the churning meter?
After I received a positive cancer prognosis from the Doctor, I underwent surgery and if you are
lucky like me and it is detected early, you can avoid having chemo therapy and get away with only
having to have radiation. To ensure you are lined up correctly and the nominated area is treated
every day for the required amount of time, you are tattooed with a ‘blue dot’. I remember thinking
it was the biggest blue dot I have ever seen because that is what you are confronted with every day
you look in the mirror. At first your ‘blue dot’ is your enemy, it can easily bring up emotions such as
fear, anger, shame and guilt to name a few. However as time passes you begin to realise that your
‘blue dot’ signifies a number of different feelings such as hope, achievement and strength.
I have learnt many things over the past 5 years about having cancer, such as there is a radiation bus
that leaves from Peel hospital each day to bring patients up and drop them off at their relevant
hospital for their blasting and then pick them up to go back down. Whilst this is a wonderful offering
it got me thinking about other remote areas and of course there is nothing for them as adults. They
are forced to come to Perth, leave their families and even be by themselves during that journey. I
have also heard of women who have chosen not to have radiation treatment from the regions
because they don’t want to be separated from their children. This is both humbling and extremely
sad. Surely we can improve this process?
Throughout my radiation treatment, I endured 4 viruses, my immune system was low. The process
for me was that I had to scan myself in each morning with a bar code as there was no receptionist on
early in the morning before 9am. A message would relay to the radiology team to let them know I
had arrived. On the morning of my second last treatment, I had dropped to the floor half way down
the corridor, I couldn’t take it any longer. When I hadn’t made it to the waiting room they came
looking for me. I was told I had to have the prescribed number of treatments regardless of how I was
feeling, I begged them to stop and let me not do the last 2 blastings, I had hit rock bottom and was
so weak. In the end the staff physically scraped me off the floor to take me to the treatment room. I
counted down the hours before this process finally came to an end for me.
I was like a robot, somehow functioning but not really understanding what was happening. I
remember thinking to myself, this must be what it is like to be in hell !
– Madam Butterfly (aka Crystal Howrie)