Eight weeks out

thumbnail_zForestBaFantacySaturday, September 1, 2019. Tomorrow marks 8 weeks since my last chemo treatment and 4 weeks since my last post. This has been a time of healing and recovery for me. As a matter of fact, it occurred to me as I was drifting off to sleep the other night that I’ve been unconsciously trying to distance myself from cancer. To not have it fill every moment of every day. To just be me in the moment enjoying my retirement and my improving health. In reality, not an hour goes by that the cancer isn’t fully present. All I have to do is glance in a mirror and it is jarringly apparent.

I don’t know when the day will come that cancer won’t be a part of my ongoing inner conversation. I’m guessing that until I reach that magical five-year milestone, it will be the enemy I am continually on the lookout for. Even after that, there will always be the war wounds of this experience to remind me of my vulnerability to this disease—the 5-inch long scar under my arm and the one-inch scar on my chest marking where my port was located. This journey has permanently changed me, as I knew it would.

My hair is just now starting to grow back after the Adriamycin…much slower than it did when I finished the carboplatin/taxol. My concentration is improving. I actually read a book from beginning to end, my first since treatments began last January. My strength and stamina are improving, but I still poop out pretty quickly. Food tastes good again, and the last I checked I was only 2 pounds away from my 95-pound goal.

I’m self-conscious when I go out in public, because I still look like a cancer patient. It is even harder for me to face groups of acquaintances and friends at art show openings or other events, mainly because it’s exhausting to even think about answering everyone’s questions and concerns about my health knowing the first topic of conversation will be about my cancer. How can it not be? If the shoe were on the other foot, I’d do the same.

In the big picture, I’m better than I’ve been in nearly a year. I’m hopeful. I’m optimistic. I’ve had and continue to enjoy incredible support and love—a gift I’m more grateful for than anyone can ever know. So thank you.

I did see Dr. Rugo on August 21 for my 6-week follow-up. She was very happy with my progress but disappointed I had opted out of radiation. However, she understood how hard the chemo was on me and that I desperately need recovery time. She asked me to not dismiss the idea completely, but to keep the topic open for discussion at our next meeting in late November.

I’m not sure when I’ll post again. Like I said, I’m trying to keep some distance from cancer, so it’s harder for me to write about it. And, right now, life is pretty uneventful. I like it that way.

Go outside and try to recapture the happiness within yourself; think of all the beauty in yourself and in everything around you and be happy. —Anne Frank