Last week I wrote about how frustrating it was to be stuck in the downward spiral of cancer. Sometimes that depression comes on like a riptide. You are swimming along and everything seems and feels fine. The next minute, you are violently pulled out to sea, topesy turvey tumbling end over end. The water is cloudy with sand and debris- scattered fragments of your life all around you. Like a bomb blast you are disoriented, ears ringing wondering how you got there and when/if life will ever return to normal.
I can’t say I know what normal is anymore, but I do know that I will phase in and out of the highs and lows. And I must remember that these moments are temporary and that someday I will return to myself again. Will someone please remind me of this next time? I have a terrible habit of forgetting!
But life is so different post diagnosis that I wonder what life will look like once I am cancer free. Will it be more peaceful? More grounded? More grateful for the small and big gifts in my life? Or will I slip away back into the over busied, hurried, unhappy cloud I dwelled in before? I suppose that’s all up to me, but in moments like this I can only hope I bring the joy and clarity cancer has brought me into my unknown future.
I realized today that one hell of a way to get unstuck is to have a victory. And I have. I have completed my fourth and final round of Adriamycin and Cytoxan and although I am not completely over the hump, I know I have won. And it feels oh so sweet.
I’ve tried to describe just how hard it is to have two complete cancer terrorists pulsating through my veins, but it really is almost impossible to say without having to experience. And since I hope to God none of you ever know the feeling, take my word for it to know that it is a no good, horrible, really bad, excruciating experience. This last round went better than the last, but even that didn’t come on without a little drama.
When the phlebotomist tried to access my port (shove a needle through my skin to find the rubber stopper implant) it gave me a sudden and intense pain. It made tears immediately well in my eyes. That is not supposed to happen. As they flushed fluid into the port, I had a strong burning sensation under my skin. Something was wrong. I was immediately sent down to radiology to see if my port was damaged. This, of course, was scary and bit overwhelming because if there was a problem it means surgery, delayed chemo and recovery. No thanks. Fortunately, everything was good. We just caught a nerve on the way in. So pain? Yes. Emergency? No. Thank God.
One of the biggest gifts lately was that an amazing friend and mentor came down to sit with me during this last round of chemo. We were delayed a day because of the port nonsense but Thrusday morning came and Sally Weaver effortlessly took my mind off the slew of drugs that were infusing into me. We talked and shared and she helped me get my mind on to bigger and better things. She, a cancer survivor, brilliant, compassionate, funny and oh so wonderful teacher kept me calm and even happy as we battled that last fierce round of A/C. I left that infusion feeling better than ever and we celebrated having slayed that last dragon. I am so grateful for her company during those moments. Thank you, Sally. We made it!
And now, the sun has been out and even though I’m still buried under the fog and haze of these drugs I am starting to turn a corner. I am once again dreaming of how I want to change the world with better family law services (totally serious) and how I want to cultivate this cancer story into something inspiring and uplifting for others watching my journey. In less than two weeks I will switch to weekly rounds of Taxol to fight the cancer for 12 weeks. Doctors assure me this will be easier than the last 8 weeks and I can tell you I am ready for easier.
On a final note, thank you all so much for your kind messages about getting unstuck. I have carried them with me and am slowly putting one foot in front of the other. Many of you have shared my blog with others whom you feel would benefit from my message. I cannot thank you enough for doing so as it both lifts me up and seems to help friends and strangers alike. This blog has become a place for the wounded and the willing to share together and connect. It has been a truly magical experience and I thank you so much for giving me this incredible gift.
Give em’ hell.