Suddenly, life meant seven weeks of radiation and chemo, five days a week, driving each weekday from Flagstaff to Phoenix for treatment and driving back each day afterward so that the parents could keep some semblance of normalcy for their children.
As Mark wrote in the preface to Laura’s book, it felt as if “a Mack truck” had hit the family. In no time, it seemed, Laura went from a cheery, healthy 40-something mom and therapist to a shell of herself. Her hair fell out, her weight dangerously dropped. She couldn’t swallow or talk and was hooked up to a feeding tube. The radiation, though targeting the cancer cells, also flayed portions of her mouth, throat, tongue, even the inside of her nasal passages.
She doesn’t cringe, recounting that ordeal. In fact, she almost speaks of it matter-of-factly.
“People call (radiation) the gift that keeps on giving,” she said. “It keeps affecting and damaging for a while. The cancer may gone, but my body was still getting worse. Radiation to head and neck burns soft tissue. My husband and I, we’d think, ‘This week it’ll get better.’ And doctors would say there’s probably a few more weeks like that.”
Eventually, though, she did get better.
“It was a long road of healing,” Wilson said. “A slow process, climbing back out of a hole. There are still some lingering things I have. Radiation to head and neck destroys salivary glands and taste buds (affects) fibrous muscle things in the shoulder, neck and jaw. But in the whole scope of things, not a big deal.”