Radiation: Day 5


I walk into the radiation room day after day, slipping behind the divider to remove my shoes and pants without being told. The towel they give me to cover myself seems large enough most days, when all of the technicians are women. But today, a man has come to get me, has walked me to the room, has told me that his wife’s name also is Charity.

Today, the towel seems very small as I walk out from behind the curtain.

The radiation table already is covered with the plastic form of my body that I climb into each day. The large bean bag with the air sucked out of it feels just like me as I lay down and try to get comfortable in myself. The form feels just like me, but it also feels awkward.

The day they created the form, I must have been lying there crooked, because the techs always have to rotate me a little to get my position just right. And the crease that digs into the back of my head each time I lay down is a constant reminder that I’ve never really been that comfortable in my own skin.

When I am settled, the large cylinder of the RapidArc machine passes over me, and I see the length of my body reflected in the glass. My face, nervous, then my hands folded uncomfortably over my chest. I see my abdomen, with its scars and ink markings; then my legs, where the machine comes to a rest. Feeling the shape of myself below me, and seeing the image of myself above me, I am very aware that I am a person in a body.


Of all the things to fight for, I never thought I would be lying in a hospital fighting for my body.

I’ve never liked my body much, if you must know. When I was in high school, I participated in sports because my friends did, not because I had the body for it. It was always my mind, my personality, even my spirit that other people noticed. In the senior year book, I wasn’t voted most good looking or most athletic. I was voted most studious, most friendly, most likely to succeed.

Like many women I know, I have tried to change my body over the years. I’ve tried to make it smaller, tighter, browner, smoother.

When I was 31, I felt betrayed by my body, my own immune system paralyzing me.

At times, I’ve even blamed my body for my singleness.

But watching my sloppy, scarred body pass over me in the image of the machine, suddenly I felt a great affection for this tent I’ve been living in.

Suddenly, my body felt like it was worth fighting for.


Today, I received good news that my CA125 level – a tumor marker indicating the presence of cancer – is back to the negative range after just the surgery as we had hoped. The radiation will be precautionary, to ensure there are no rogue cells remaining. I am so thankful to Jesus for this news, especially since the side effects of radiation (fatigue, mild nausea) are beginning to take effect.

Photo by Detlef Schobert, via Flickr, used under the Creative Commons License.


Charity Singleton Craig

Charity Singleton Craig is a writer, author, and speaker, helping readers grow in their faith and experience true hope in the middle of lifeā€™s joys and sorrows. She is the author of My Year in Words: what I learned from choosing one word a week for one year and coauthor of On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits for a Writing Life That Lasts.

  • Sheri L. Swift ,

    Praying for you Charity. You are so much more than your body & I’m so glad you had a good report! God bless & hold you in the palm of His hands. : )

    • Thoughts for the day ,

      Wonderful news, and incredible emotions, rest and take care and always give thanks.

      • Megan Willome ,

        “I’ve never really been that comfortable in my own skin.”–I can so identify with that statement. It’s interesting how sickness is making you appreciate and fight for your body.

        love you!

        • Alison ,

          Glad to hear that your levels are in the negative region! I enjoy reading your posts and your insights into life as you continue on your journey to wellness.

          • David Rupert ,

            Fighting for your body is worthy, even holy. Prayers for you sister.

            • Glynn ,

              What you’re sharing here is important, Charity. And a blessing. As hard as it must be at times, your sharing of it is a blessing.

              • Sandra Heska King ,

                To walk through this with you–through your words–it’s a gift.

                “Suddenly, my body felt like it was worth fighting for.”

                Thanks for allowing us to fight with you.

                And here’s to negative markers!

                • Sheila ,

                  CA125. I know that. I’m sorry you do.

                  This is real in a way I can’t put words to. Thank you, Charity. You are a precious, precious gift.

                  • Linda ,

                    Oh Charity – that is such great news. Rejoicing!!!
                    These posts are so rich and real and beautifully written. Thank you for sharing your heart. The Lord is going to use this time in a very special way.

                    • Elizabeth ,

                      Thanks for your honesty, and thanks, too, for sharing enough good news for today. =)

                      • Carolyn Counterman ,

                        Charity, thank you for sharing your journey. I know it is hard. Thank you for fighting for your body so that we can share you longer. Glad the tests came back the way they hoped.

                        • Lyla Lindquist ,

                          This right here, this may say an awful lot about “not wasting” our pain. I so appreciate your efforts to steward it well, Charity. Thank you.

                          • Marilyn Yocum ,

                            This is a very deep topic, coming to identify with your own body. You had a sentence that stopped me in my tracks and made me go back and reread: “…the crease that digs into the back of my head each time I lay down is a constant reminder that I’ve never really been that comfortable in my own skin.” Something grabbed me there. I love posts that get me thinking and without easy answers.

                            I’m sorry the fatigue and nausea are making their presence known. šŸ™ Keep writing as you continue to move through this season, if you can. I’m hanging on to every word.

                            • amber ,

                              This is one of your best posts. Good reminder that the body is a tent, yet precious. This post really made me think. Congratulations on success of your treatments.

                              • A Joyful Noise ,

                                May the side effects be minimal and your precious body recover quickly from this treatment and give you many years of good service.

                                • Nancy ,

                                  I’m glad you’re writing about this Charity, and I think you’re on to something really important in this post. God did make us disembodied souls. He gave us bodies to walk around in, worship in, hurt and heal in, receive the sacraments in, and hug the necks of friends in. They matter. Even when they betray us.