Radiation saved my life. No doubt about it. People ask if I feel differently; if I view the world with a new perspective.

No, not really.

The internal and external radiation burn I was left with remind me several times daily that I am not done with my illness.

Seven years later, internal processes that were too near those radiation beams and seeds just haven’t bounced back to their jolly old selves. Some skin is red, raw and has never healed.

I go through periods of reflection, deflection, anger, frustration, embarrassment and depression related to this. And it was during one such dismal day that a specialist (Yes, I realize how darned lucky I am to have adequate insurance. Thank you public school union reps and the MEA) told me about the hyperbaric oxygen therapy unit at Maine General in Augusta. Google it. Freaking amazing.

Breathing high pressure oxygen for a couple of hours under tightly observed conditions forces it into those unhealed areas and guess what? They start to heal. Innards and outtards start to take away the burnt parts and replace them with healthy cells. I’m feeling and seeing positive results.

So, I believe this time in my life is my second chance to live fully the way I see myself living. My body is beginning to feel more alive. I’m seeing and feeling that I can depend on my body again. Not so many lotions and potions to carry around with me. Learning that when I suffer discomfort, if I can distract myself and get through the next 10 minutes, it will almost always go away. I’m feeling hopeful again and that makes all the difference.

In this second chance, I’m choosing clothing and a hair style that I like even if they do draw attention. No more flying below the radar. I’m not becoming a one-woman band, mind you, I am just living unfettered.

I’m cooking with more herbs and seasonings. The cupboard has Italian, Greek and Indian spices. Listen, I’ve tossed chopped dried apricots into my meatloaf and it was De-Lish!

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