Radiation is the sinister stuff that bad guys use to threaten civilization in action movies.

It melted a couple of cities in World War II.

Marie Curie, the physicist who discovered radium, was a wife and mom and had a cookbook that’s so dangerously radioactive her museum keeps it in a lead-lined box.

So…how is it, exactly, that radiation is supposed to save my life?

After the cooing, cozy nest of the chemo nurses, radiation treatments are boring, chilly, cramp-inducing, and day-to-day relentless.

Every day, Monday through Friday, I report to the radiation station.  Step into the dressing area, off comes the shirt and brassiere, and be careful with that, there’s a silicone foob in there and I don’t want it to flop out and bounce across the treatment room floor.  Duck into my hospital johnny and tie the ties.  Lie on the slab-hard table.  Steve and Gina, the only wonderful aspects of this whole paducah, untie the ties.  They cooperate to yank my carcass into exactly the right position, like Sea World trainers maneuvering Shamu.  Don’t move. Steve and Gina depart through the blast door.  Don’t move.  Don’t move.  Don’t move.

The giant manhole cover thingy takes fifteen minutes to move into about twenty different angles and sing a single note from each position, indicating it’s dispensing lethal rays.  I can’t feel a thing but it’s creepy.

Also creepy is what it’s doing to my skin.  From my chin to my spleen, I’m glowing bright red like a Christmas bulb.  Blisters have coalesced and burst open, creating scabby, leprous craters that itch and burn.  I feel like I’ve been tightly wrapped in barbed wire. Yowza.

And if you’re my recently-diagnosed-with-breast-cancer sister who’s about to follow me on this journey to the cure, I’m just kidding.  Really.  And did I mention the foot massage?

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”  Isaiah 43:2


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