Well, the good news is that radiation isn’t so bad, and I’m a quarter done. Nine down, twenty-seven more to go. Next Wednesday, I’ll be a third done, and the following week, I’ll be half done. Sometimes it feels like forever, but it goes fast. And here I am, eight months into the year. A long time, and yet, not really.

But who knew that I’d become so obsessed, nay, dependent on tape throughout my treatment? Not me, for last January, I never even considered the importance of tape in my life. Especially waterproof tape. I have at least 10 pieces of waterproof tape on my breasts and chest area. The tape covers the marks, blue and red, that guide my position on the table (red) and the targets (blue). Sure don’t want those to be messed up, and get a zap in the wrong place. Tape is my friend, despite its annoying propensity to peel off at the edges.

I’m grateful that the tape is waterproof too, because that means I can have a shower…. carefully. And the world is grateful too since I can’t wear any deodorant under my left arm. The tape is doing a good job of staying in place, although it’s checked over during my radiation, and a few pieces have been replaced. I noticed that the radiation room has a generous supply of both tape and markers. Without tape, I guess I would have a tattoo. The markers will wash away, and I can’t help but think these extensive markings make it easier to position, aim and zap.

Tape was important during chemo, since it held my picc line in place, and again, waterproof tape enabled me to have a shower. Perhaps the most novel use of tape was during my initial hair loss when I would stick a piece of packing tape on my head and use it to pull out falling hair. That was fun. We find our fun where we can.

Anyway, I was a little nervous about my first radiation. The table seemed a bit narrow, but I’ve not fallen off it yet, and the radiation techs are all very nice. I’m usually done in 20 minutes. Very efficient. Almost always on time, usually early. I’m often done with the day’s zap before my scheduled appointment. I refer to radiation as zappage, it makes me feel more like wonder woman and less like plant life.

Because my upper outer left breast is zapped, I balance on my right hip a little bit, put my arms over my head, close my eyes and breathe. I also count off the seconds. First zap is in front, about 25 seconds, then there are two zaps on the left side, one lower than the other. Each left side zap is about 15 seconds. The last zap goes through a sort of filter – a triangle of metal that weakens the zap on one side, to protect the non-breast bits there. (Some important non-breast real estate in my chest, obviously). As a consequence, the last zap makes a different sound, sort of a whirring. The rad onc doc explained this to me when I asked him about the noise and the timing.

The radiation techs are amused with my shoes, too. I have a pair of Vibram Five Fingers. Shoes sort of like toe socks, but great for walking with my bad knee. These shoes will convince you of our shared heritage with monkeys and apes. My feet look like monkey feet, or some swamp monster. I think one of the techs was going to buy a pair for herself. It’s good to have something to laugh at.

To be honest, I don’t really think all that much about cancer per se. I think about being tired, I think about grey hair, I think about trying to get more exercise. I wonder if the middle of my right eyebrow will ever grow back. I think about finding a new place to live in Zurich early next year. I think a lot about moving forward. I will have hard work ahead of me because I’m in awful shape from my veg-out over the last 8 months. But I don’t think about recurrences or cancer cells growing in spots around my body. And that’s very, very good.