Saturday, January 25, 2014

A Year Ago Today - Impossible to Believe

Its been a year since my last chemo session.  The anniversary would have been sometime last week...the 22nd or 23rd. I think its a pretty good thing that I can't remember the exact date.  It seems so long ago and just yesterday all at the same time.  It's very true that "it always seems impossible until its done" but in this case, it feels impossible that it actually is done.

My fourth and last chemo was a surreal event.  At this point, it was old hat.  Blood test a week before, a weigh in when I get there, consultation with Lisa the NP and Heidi my oncologist, and then into the chair.  After hoping the needle went into the port correctly and getting all settled, the saline and benadryl dripping from the first bag making me feel warm and dizzy and I quickly fall to sleep. My husband and my mother take turns sitting next to me, talking, dozing, trying to read.  Women come in and out, some with short chemo sessions, some with longer ones.  I looked around at all of them, taking them in, looking at who they are and what they were going through, wondering what their stories were.  I couldn't believe that I'd come to this day, where the journey "ends" or at least the treatment does.

A couple of hours passed, the bags dripped out, the tubes were taken out, a bandage placed on port and the words "Congratulations you're done."  I wanted to celebrate but it felt so wrong. Being around so many women who were so sick, some will be on chemo for the rest of their lives, some will not live much longer, it felt rude to celebrate, to be the one who leaves "cured."
It also felt strange to be free and out of treatment.  Chemo is not fun and not something to look forward to, but it at least felt like something was happening.  I wanted to attack the cancer, kill it and keep it away.  How do I know it is staying away if I'm not at the office every month, getting tests, getting treatments? What does a life that doesn't revolve around doctors' offices and strategy sessions look like?  Is keeping cancer away something I can do on my own? What happens next?

In the last year I've tried to focus on health, family and happiness.  I do things that make me happy.  I sleep when I want to. I run and exercise and try to eat healthy. I focus more on family and friends and less on work.  I am learning more about cancer and advocacy.  People have opened up to me about their fears and medical issues and I've referred more women than I would have believed to my doctor.  I've celebrated when they find out its not cancer and I've felt their heartbreak when they've found out it is.

I've gone through a journey that seemed impossible until it was over.  Now I know its never over, that it sits on the minds and hearts of the people I love, advises my decisions in work and play, and brings people into my life that I never imagined.  I don't know exactly what the next days or years will bring.  I hoping and working toward health, happiness and enjoying the journey.

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