Today is the 1 year anniversary of my first proton Beam treatment. Mike took this picture of me as I tearfully climbed up onto the Gantry 1 table and he headed out to another waiting room. We had no idea what to expect but at first glance it wasn’t this room out of a Star Trek Movie. Being the one year anniversary of learning this important lesson, and how it relates to going after our goals and dreams despite it having its own set of challenges and set backs, It feels like a good day to share this story again.
When you receive PBT your head gets strapped down to the table with a custom fitted face mask and it is really tight. The first day of treatment I was pretty scared and because of the mask, I had a grimace plastered on my face the whole time.
When I stood up and walked onto the elevator to go home, I actually asked Mike if he thought they had forgotten to plug the cyclotron in because I didn't see anything or feel anything during treatment, "Was that it?". (I now know how ridiculous that sounds but at the time, It was a very real consideration!) The next day and for each of the days of the next 6 weeks, I made sure they plastered a smile on my face when they strapped me down. It didn’t have to feel good to be good and smiling helped me and my body believe it.
One year later, to the day, I am as grateful as ever for the treatment I received in this room and for the last pills of my 5th cycle of Chemo that I took last night. One more infusion and I will be on to Cycle 6. Just as I did during PBT, I still smile when I take my Chemo pills or get my Chemo infusions. I don’t smile because the drugs are so much fun...they are not. I smile because I'm sending a message to my brain to stay calm, breathe deep, and that this is good.
So, be it a a big Physics exam my nephew has to plow his way through or a scraped knee my 4 year old has to breathe through. Or a training session that just hurts and feels really long. Smiling helps. Try it! Im pretty sure it lights up some part of the brain that sends a message to another part of the brain that sends a message to the body, letting it know that it doesn’t have to run or climb a tree or hide. Instead, its message says, you’re ok, Its ok take a breath, you can do this.