April 14th. I had been looking at that date on every single calendar for 4 months. April 14th. Good Friday. Good riddance.
I finished chemotherapy. I finished the worst thing I’ve ever experienced. I had accepted my fixer as my destroyer and it did just that. And I hope to NEVER have to face this nonsense again.
So what now? Mid-May I go in for a fully loaded blood workup to see if my immune system – which once was lost – has now been found. I’m still mostly concerned about being able to eat sushi again, but it will be thrilling to not have to leave Target if someone and their cough decide to follow you around.
Then, in mid-June, I’ll go radioactive for a few hours and get my butt into a PET Scan so I can finally utter the magical “R” word: remission. It’ll be about 8 weeks since my last chemo treatment so that they can ensure the chemo wasn’t hiding any itty bitty cancer cells. In December, almost a year since my cancer burst onto the scene, I’ll get another scan to ensure I’m still free.
My doctor had a very real conversation with me last Tuesday. I should preface this by saying that I spent most of the week paying for the weekend I had just had, so I was not well when I saw her. I hadn’t been social like that since I began treatment. I was outside, with multiple humans who I already admired before cancer, but after my diagnosis, they went above and beyond to create a safety net of support, a support that never waned. I wanted to live and live I did.
Anywho, my oncologist was a little nervous because my stomach has been a mess (thanks, prescription drugs!), my fatigue was crippling my ability to express myself, and my blood pressure was something like 80/50. NOT IDEAL. And then she unleashed a heavy dose of reality. “You can throw a party to celebrate finishing chemotherapy. It’s a milestone,” she said. YAS, I want all the balloons! My Pinterest board it ready, booboo! “But this isn’t the end of cancer” Pop, pop, popopopopopopopop.
Oh, that’s the sound of every single balloon at my imaginary party popping around me as the cancer monster walks through the door.
I’ll be getting scans for the next five years, scans which will eventually become less frequent as I get further away from the day I’m officially declared in remission. Scans are easy, they mess up my stomach for a day, but after chemo, I have a different idea on what I can handle and what is an absolute nightmare. So bring on the scans! Bring on the anxiety they will cause (is it back — I think I feel a tumor) while it’s meant to quiet the other thoughts (no, you fool, stop freaking, see, there’s nothing here). Life and I are doing our best to get back to normal, but our relationship currently falls under “it’s complicated.”
It’s a weird feeling. Having cancer, then suddenly expected to jump right back into life as I once knew it. I’m realizing it doesn’t quite work like that. I really want to continue putting myself first – above any job or situation. Being done with chemo is one step, but there’s so much healing ahead of me. And not just that I have to rebuild my defenses or my stamina. I’m now left to piece together so much I’ve put on hold to deal with this shitstorm. I don’t doubt I’ll get there, just need to accept that it’ll take a minute.
One day at a time. That’s forever now. And it’s about damn time I started living in the moment and worrying less about what’s to come.