Tracie Cone has always been a trailblazer. This award-winning journalist is the former California Newspaper Executive of the Year. She shares a Pulitzer Prize with fellow staff members at the Miami Herald for coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew and has twice been nominated individually. She has focused her writing on helping the underdog and empowering those without a strong voice of their own. Now she takes us on the fight of her life.
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Ouch, Ouch, Itch

I’m about halfway through with radiation, and while this should be cause to celebrate, I’m really worrying about how my skin will hold out.

I’m suffering with a horrible burn rash across the half of the radiation area closest to my breastbone, and all of it looks sunburned. To top it off, the fifth and final dose they give me – a long, shallow dose across my breastbone – has started to create a smell as if something’s burning.

I think it’s me.

Radiation is still a strange experience, made better by the really nice folks at Fresno Cancer Center. One wonders what might be the long-term effect of something for which everyone else leaves the room and shuts a big metal door for good measure. I had some trouble breathing deeply over the weekend, and there is now some concern that my lungs might have been – what’s the word, not “burned,” but that’s what it feels like. I don’t know what the word is for radiation exposure. But the right lung might have gotten too much exposure, so Dr. P altered some things today in an effort to help both my burns and my lung, just in case there is a problem. We shall see.

Radiation is making me tired, according to schedule. Not sleepy tired, but melt-in-your-chair tired. Yesterday I was sitting in a chair next to my glass of water. I was thirsty, but didn’t feel like lifting my arm to reach the glass. That kind of tired.

But it’s better than chemo sick. And it’s better than the pain of having both breasts lopped off. It’s just weird to feel well and mentally alert for the first time since May – but yet it’s so danged difficult to get my leaden arms and legs to move.

I’m not complaining – just stating the facts. I’m happy that after enduring so much for so long, the end is within my grasp. (If I could only reach out my arm)

It will take a while for me to recover my strength from radiation. But now I have a date – Feb. 1, 2011. That’s the date Dr. P wrote on my disability form today as the time I will probably be able to return to work at the Associated Press.

It will have been exactly nine months from the time of my diagnosis to my return to work.

Exactly the length of time it takes to create a new life. My new life.

3 Responses to “Ouch, Ouch, Itch”

  • Abis BF:

    YEAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The light is now visible at the end of this tunnel. We’ll have to hold a Groundhogs Day Eve Gala in your honor !!!!
    We love you Tracie C !!!!!!!!!Congratulations on the progress !!!

  • Lee Q:

    Again, Tracie, you write beautifully.

  • Marty Cheek:

    Hi Tracy:

    I just found out about your condition. Hang in there!

    Marty Cheek

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