Six Years

Six years ago this month I was spending my mornings taking off my pants, putting on a hospital gown and lying beneath the beam of a radiation machine.  26 times I felt the technicians pull me into place.  26 times the beast of a machine spun around me and delivered it’s invisible radiation.  There was every emotion in the world under that machine, fear, hope and even a bit of laughter as I’d tell the tech some minor joke.

I remember one thing the most – my shoes.

I had a pair of brown slip-on shoes.  They were more like slippers, but made for the office and guys like me who hate to tie shoe laces.  In the dressing room I’d take off my shirt, pants and underwear, but I’d get to keep on my tee-shirt, socks, and was told to put my shoes back on for the walk to the machine.  Stripped of all dignity, save for my fancy office shoes and a plain hospital gown.

Just before I’d get on the table in the treatment room, I’d have to surrender my shoes.  They sat on the floor next to the table, waiting for the treatment to end.

Technicians would push and pull my body until it lined up with the laser beams shooting out the walls and ceiling.  Then with my gown pulled up, I lie half exposed to the world as the techs retreated to the control room and the noise of the machine drowned out the 80’s rock and roll music they thought I’d like.

5 minutes became 10  and then an entirety as my mind drifted to that place of no thought where I held my body rigid and my emotions at bay.  Life seemed to just drain away as I looked up at the whirling machine and the clouds painted on the ceiling.

When the machine retreated and the music again fell in my ear I sensed a person next to me pulling my gown down to cover my nakedness.  Gentle words were spoken and strong hands pulled me up to a sitting position.

“Let me do the work.”

“Take your time.”

Were the words I most remember before my eyes could shed the mist of the distant land where my mind had been.  The first vision I most recall was of the floor,

and the shoes waiting to walk me home.

Till next time,


About Andrew Reynolds

Born in California Did the school thing studying electronics, computers, release engineering and literary criticism. I worked in the high tech world doing software release engineering and am now retired. Then I got prostate cancer. Now I am a blogger and work in my wood shop doing scroll saw work and marquetry.
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68 Responses to Six Years

  1. Kathleen says:

    Andrew, lovely writing. I stumbled upon your post while searching for information. My husband has chosen radiation treatment for his prostate cancer and starts his 28 days within the next few weeks. Thank you for the glimpse into the journey he’s about to take. Sending all good wishes for your continued good health.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. nimi naren says:

    Lovely post, Andrew. My prayers for your good health.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mukhamani says:

    I always like your posts and photos Andrew. My mother is having chemotherapy, she has lymphoma. She is 76 and had no health problems at all, and how did this happen ? God knows. Regards

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Your post brought back those same kind of memories for me. Radiation treatments almost 13 years ago and although I didn’t have as many as you did, it’s something you don’t forget. Mine were even more invasive because they were internal.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Andrew, I think we “met” through disease. I was writing my book, “En Garde: My Battle With Breast Cancer,” and we somehow saw each other’s blogs. I nam so glad and received to know that we both are doing well, and are still here to tell the story. Your writing keeps getting better and better!
    Long may it reign.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wonderfully written. I have a lump in my throat, partly because your post was so expressive and partly because it brought back memories of sitting in chemo labs with loved ones. I’m glad you made it through.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Baydreamer says:

    Beautifully written, Andrew, and I’m glad you got through it. This resonates a little with what we’re going through with our daughter…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hospital staff are angels with invisible wings.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. pommepal says:

    We are so lucky to be living in a time that medical miracles and procedures can give us the time to recover and live our lives again. I know how you feel about being amazed 6 years have passed. I feel the same about the 10 years since my heart attack.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Strange the slices of experience we hold onto, and those we discard. Memory is a very odd thing indeed. It can be quite dangerous, I think. I’m glad you came through the cooking experience unscathed, Andrew.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. CJ Hartwell says:

    It’s very hard to hold onto dignity at the hospital, but from the sounds of it you did well. Sounds like you had excellent technicians as well. Congratulations on the six year anniversary!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Allan G. Smorra says:

    Thanks, Andrew. I have a friend who is about to begin the same treatment that you describe. This post has given me a lot of insight of what he will be going thru. Hopefully I can be as empathetic as your attendants.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. dorannrule says:

    Modern medicine, treatments and testing, although “cutting edge” is still either invasive or humiliating. How I sympathize with you as I recall 4 MRIs in 2 years. The DooWop music helped though. Your writing is phenomenal Andrew. Kudos.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Chris White says:

    So Andrew. Do you still have the shoes?

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Frightening experience. If I’m ever there, I will remember your dignity and poise.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. LuAnn says:

    Thanks for sharing this Andrew. It brought me back to my husband’s experience. Congratulations on the 6 years!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. kritsayvonne says:

    The best post I’ve read on this blog. The one to beat it will be when you recount it has been 12 years. Best wishes. x

    Liked by 1 person

  18. floridaborne says:

    How well you describe such a painful memory.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. J R Dalton says:

    Thank you for sharing this. Tomorrow I have my first meeting with my oncologist. As cancer has been discovered in some of my lymph nodes, six months of chemotherapy is in my near future. After that more surgery and after that radiotherapy. Your post is subtle and yet filled with so much unsaid. Sometimes the silence between our words has the most meaning. And sometimes it’s a quirky thought or image that keeps us grounded in the present, like a pair of shoes waiting. I haven’t found a way to write about my cancer diagnosis yet. However, reading the stories of others does help. I am reminded to breathe again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • In writing there is power in silence and the trick is to use it well. I’ve read your blog and wish that everything goes well for you. It’s scary to stand at the beginning of this journey. It can be filled with statistics, probabilities, uncertainly and confusion. You learn as you go. The only way to write about it is to start by just writing the raw emotion, the fear, the concern, and all those. I wasn’t able to write about any part of it until the treatments started and I had some distance from the shock of diagnosis. The words come with time – be open to them when they arrive.

      Liked by 2 people

  20. timsablog says:

    Good description Andrew

    Liked by 1 person

  21. jfwknifton says:

    That is really beautiful. Thank you for sharing something so close to your heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Ray V. says:

    I hope that I never have to walk in those shoes.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. davidprosser says:

    A real indignity which is so worthwhile for the years gained. Years we’re all grateful for Andrew.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Your text is gifted. An awesome message…..thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. George says:

    There are feelings you share that can only be felt by the person who is living the experience the way you did. I pray six years become sixty. Thank you for sharing Andrew. God bless.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Ron says:

    Andrew…Just know that your right wing friend in N.C. still prays for your continued good health🙏

    Another great post.


    Liked by 2 people

  27. dfolstad58 says:

    Powerful story. I empathize with your story from the times when I would report to the hospital for dialysis.

    Liked by 1 person

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