after coffee

July 22, 2007 § 6 Comments

I take Frannie to camp. There’s some haggling involved. No matter what time she goes to bed, she wants to sleep more.

And then, there’s the stretching. So much stretching. What’s with thoes long legs.

Breakfast is easy. Cheerios. There’s watching the gerbils, if we remember. Feeding them, if we remember. I unload the dishwasher and pack lunch. We manage to leave the house with a minimum of four bags. I carry all of them. 1) a napsack 2) a lunchbox 3) a bag of garbage to deposit on the way to the car 4) my combo napsack, pocketbook, canvas tote.

We drive to camp. She blows me a kiss, and waves goodbye.

kiss.jpg wave-goodbye.jpg

I drive home and I park the car. It’s 9a and I walk 2 miles to my 9:30a radiation appointment at the BIDMC. I walk because my day may be busy and walking 4 miles roundtrip guarantees modest exercise for the day.

walking-to-treatment.jpg walking-past-st-paul.jpg

Approaching the building I pick up speed. 9:28am. There’s a Dunkin Donuts in the lobby which I pass. I am never tempted to stop. My first week I got lost, now I know which hallway to walk down and find the elevator easily. I press B for radiation oncology. There is something telling about treamtments that are reserved for the bowels of a building.

I scan in with my “blue card”. They’re very efficient this way. A flawless organization at work; moving people in and out all day with hardly a wait. Most days I’ll bypass changing into a robe or jonny. I have mastered the art of slipping my shirt on and off in a matter of seconds. It’s faster, and the less time in hospital attire the better.

One technician was pregant. I asked her if she had concerns working in radiation. She looked at me like I was an alien or an idiot. “There’s no radiation here”. Clearly she has confidence in the targeted beams and I suspect reasonable health insurance should anything be amiss.


Once on the table I lose myself in my ipod. I listen to something classical or latin. The meditation tapes I tried early on were too meditiative. I prefer music that can mask the drone of the buzzing machine each time another dosage hits me.


Every other day is a bolus day. I call it a bollucks day. The bolus is wet towel wrapped in saran wrap, placed on my chest. It functions as a conductor bringing maximum radiation to the skin. Other days the radiation just penetrates through me. The goal is even and consistent cooking. On non-bolus days my chest is bare. I would not have posted that picture.


By the end of my second week, I’m tired and the treated area feels hot, like a sunburn. My walk home takes a little longer.

I’d like to forget the cancer, but at the moment, it’s in my face Monday through Friday. The weekends are filled with better things, like the Hillsborough Ballon Festival.

xoxo Momo


§ 6 Responses to after coffee

  • Wynelle says:

    You’ve passed Heartbreak Hill. This is the last six miles, where the cheering crowds have faded into wallpaper and Copley Square seems like it must be on another planet and you’ll never reach it. *But you will.* XXOX

  • ruth says:

    Momo-You’re creativity and zeal shine through and are exploding on this here blog more than I’ve ever seen in my 30+ years of knowing you. Love the U Tube as yet another way for you to capture / release the thoughts and feelings. Keep up the walking as best you can so we’ll be ready to roll on Sept. 23rd!!!Thanks for taking us along on this journey. xoxruth

  • Karen Cote says:

    Marilyn, Thank you for being the voice for those of us going through the same journey. I could never put it sooo eloquently! I finished chemo 2 weeks ago. I also have some neuropathy from the Taxol. I saw the radiation oncologist last week and will start radiation the first week of September. I’m going to try to enjoy August and get my college boys back to school. I think of you often and am sending best wishes for sunnier days ahead as you emerge from the radiation blur!

  • Rick B. says:

    Big balloons are always cheering, and so is your blog entry, all in all. I do confess that the elevator video left me questioning your filmmaking talents (no characters, limited action, lack of storytelling) but the Franny video more than made up for it!!

    FYI, I think you should be SHOUTING about your participation in the 5 K, I expect to hear more about that as we get closer!

  • Paul Levy says:

    For some reason, I LOVE the photo of your feet. You have a gift of evoking the situation.

  • I love your image of your feet! In fact, I’d like permission to work with it in a collage that I’m developing for a contest. The winners will be published in an upcoming book. There would be, to the best of my understanding, no financial renumeration; being published is the prize!

    Please email me at art(AT)lantier(DOT)org to discuss the possibility. I would, of course, give you complete credit for the image. My deadline is 5:00 PM, EST, 30 November, so I would appreciate hearing from you soon.

    Thank you for your consideration.

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