Either way, I am growing stronger every day. When friends stop in, they often have this look of being horrified at my 50lbs of weight loss while trying to be supportive and smiling. Some just lose it and start to cry. I'm still smiling though... I am improving from the inside out. Others might not see it, but I am healing and that's an awesome feeling.
A week ago, I was in exquisite pain from the radiation burns on my neck. My girl's mother, Debbie, works at Western Washington Oncology and has seen so very many patients who have gone through the treatment I have endured. She told me this past week that she didn't honestly believe I would be able to complete my treatment from the sheer pain and disfiguring damage that occurs to the tissues of the neck from the type of cancer I was being treated for. She was in tears when she told me how proud of me she was that I got through... For me, it wasn't a choice. If I wanted to remain cancer free, I needed to trust my doctors, especially when my radiation oncologist told me that I would need the most aggressive regimen of treatment she has ever prescribed. She said I would "hate" her towards the end of my treatment and beg for it to stop. "Them's fightin' words" where I come from. Just like most kids, I hate being told what "I'll probably do." I would rather prove her wrong than take the easy way out and feel hatred.
The good news is I did finish, but the pain was crazy bad. I hate burns in general, but when you are burning as much on the outside as you are on the inside, that is a whole new experience. I don't recocmmend it, friends. Since then, I've alternated the use of "Silvadene" burn cream and Emu Oil... I've had all of you praying and lifing me up in prayer, even those of you who never prayed before. I want to thank you for those prayers, because they worked. I'll spare you the photo of the weeping wounds and scabs, but here is the "after" photo... just two weeks after completing treatment:
Today I am also beginning to paint for the first time. I don't count art class in Junior High as really painting. I mean really paint. As some of you know, I have been a photographer for years and love creating art by using my camera to bring out the extraordinary from what may appear to others as ordinary. You can see some of my work at www.robertburtonphotography.com. If you are wondering why "Robert Burton", it is because I try to keep my photography separate from my business work when people "Google" me, so I use my middle name instead. All that said, I hope to be able to explore my vision of the world through my hands and a brush, in addition to a lens and Photoshop.
I have two exciting things coming up as well. First, attending CES with my best friend, Cory. For nearly three decades, I've watched the news in mid-January and have seen the special reports from Las Vegas at the world's largest technological conference. The newest technologies have always facinated me. Each time I've seen the reports, I've said, "I want to go to that someday!" Well, I finally received tickets to go, and you guesed it, I received them before this cancer thing was even on the horizon.
Since last summer I have been planning this trip with Cory. The cool part is that I was able to use my Alaska Airlines credits to take care of the airfare, and we are getting a $300 a night hotel for only $50 a night because of my connections down there. Sure, I get to pack my food in "formula" cans and bring them in my suitcase, but it will be a lot of fun.
As for the second exciting adventure... I will tell you more in my next post.
Things are looking up every day, my friends. Amidst the craziness of life and the aches and pains we feel, good things are happening. It may be the smallest of things, but you and I are still blessed so very much. Cherish the moments as they come and make it a point to thank God for his blessings each day. You won't be able to help but smile amidst the storms that will come when you do.