I had my last radiation treatment Thursday. It is a relief to have this behind me, though for five weeks the two hour visit to the Kitchener cancer centre had become part of the daily pattern of life.

I received treatment in ten areas for thirteen lesions. A couple of the smaller lesions have healed, including the one on my face. The others are in process of healing with two having quite a bit more healing to do. Nevertheless, I am told that in four weeks, most of the healing will be complete. I have radiation burn around the lesions, which should peak in a week. And yes, since Thursday I can sense that the burn is getting a bit worse. I am still in some pain, particularly from two lesions but this is much reduced. The radiation burn especially in one area is providing greater pain. I will be starting to take chemo by a pill form in two to three weeks. I may be taking this “indefinitely,” the doctor said. I see her on Feb 2, and we will determine then when I start. It will depend a bit on how well the lesions are healing.

I am happy that my body is co-operating with the timing of the organic agriculture conference this coming weekend at the University of Guelph. This annual event is always a highlight of the year for me, and I should be able to attend some of it. One of the main speakers at the conference is Miriam Therese MacGillis, a Dominican sister and founder of Genesis Farm in New Jersey. She will also give a lecture at Loyola House on Thursday. I am looking forward to her visit.

Saturday, we heard the very sad news that Bill Addley died, after being diagnosed with cancer only a couple of weeks ago. Bill was the pastor of our Jesuit parish in Toronto, a former provincial and was the vocation director when I entered the Jesuits. He was a great man, very affirming of others. This is a difficult time for our Jesuit province.

Last week I took a short walk behind our house and discovered a beaver dam and hut on our creek. Of course, the flooded water is causing some damage (admittedly from my human-centric perspective!), and there are the stumps of chewed trees. I saw the irony that we spent over $60,000 to remove the dam on this creek, only to have beavers move in to dam the same creek within a year. I could not help but marvel that this “ongoing Beaver Hut on the MardenCreation,” such a part of our Canadian identity, was happening on our farm, so close to a city. It was one more occasion to appreciate the blessing of this place.

I am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Once the lesions are healed, my activity should not be so restricted and I am hopeful that this might be soon. I look forward to being able to take longer walks more than anything else. I am realizing though that life will never be as “normal” as before. Or, perhaps the new normal will be the reality that I will always be “living with cancer.” In any case, the challenge for me now is to continue to live this moment.

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