Well folks the time has come…number 6. I have my last heavy duty chemo infusion in my treatment plan tomorrow. It has managed to come fast and slow at the same time and, to be honest, I have mixed feelings about it. Don’t get me wrong I am SO excited to not have poison pumped through my body every three weeks. I am ready to de fog my brain and re grow my hair :-). But it is odd to get to the end and wonder if I accomplished anything with this challenging process. Emotionally and spiritually I have grown in profound ways but I will never know if the chemo actually did anything. I just get to the end, walk out the door and wait…hopefully wait years without any sign of the cancer returning.
When I started on this cancer journey it seemed like running a half marathon/marathon was a good metaphor for the process. I would be tested physically and mentally and would have to rely on mental fortitude to push to the finish. There are many similarities but where the comparison breaks down for me is at the “finish”. Tomorrow I will be done (minus the side effects) with the tough chemo but my journey with cancer will continue in a different capacity. There is not an “I made it” moment and now I get to leave this all behind me. I get to leave this particular physical challenge behind me but the race is not done. I am now thinking a better metaphor is a long distance hike and I have just crested a summit but the trail continues before me. There will be times that are more physically demanding and others I get to stroll along enjoying the scenery. However, I am now on a cancer path and it will forever influence me.
But, that wont stop me from having one heck of a celebration after cresting this “chemo peak”. After all this I’ve learned you have to party whenever you have an excuse. 🙂
Welp the 3rd infusion is done and behind me, got the IV on the first go…Yes!…now comes the role of the side effects dice. Fingers crossed for a big winner. 🙂 This is a post I was working on for a bit and thought it was as good a time as any to send it out to the internet.
Have you ever heard the quote… “It’s about the journey, not the destination?” I understand the idea but honestly I really hate it because it flies against my natural mode of operation. I don’t love the journey for the sake of being on a journey. Just dancing through life soaking up the beautiful moments, I am focused on the goal. What am I working towards? And will I like it when I get there? I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment and checking something off the list. I can remember being on a hike in the beautiful cascade mountains and stopping myself ½ way up amazed at what I was focused on for the first 1.5 hours. My thoughts shifted between… “How far have I gone?”… “How far do I have left to go?” … “How are my legs/knees doing?” … “Do I think they’ll make it?”… I was focused on where I put my feet but never looked up from the trail long enough to enjoy the reason why I was hiking in the first place. These are the moments when I know that I need to make more of an effort to be present in the journey because I don’t want to miss it, but it doesn’t happen naturally for me. I have to choose.
I know that part of the reason why I can’t just abandon myself to the process is a fear that it won’t turn out the way I want. Again, I can feel this most often when I am watching a sporting match or reading a book. I have friends that will religiously avoid Facebook or the internet if they’ve missed a match or TV show so they don’t run the risk of “spoilers”. Those little bits of information that give away the ending and ruin the surprise. I will actively seek them so I know whether it is worth starting the journey in the first place. Jonathan laughs at me when I read because if there are characters I am invested in and the story is intense I will flip to the end and skim the pages for the names I want to make it. I don’t actually want to know what the ending is but I want to know that the characters I care about will make it. Confession: I totally did this with Harry Potter. I want to know that I am free to enjoy their story because in the end it all works out.
Now enter the kindle… I really enjoy the kindle. I wasn’t sure if I would miss holding a real book but it’s been great. The e-ink. The fact that I can carry 1400 books everywhere (not that I do…but I can). I can purchase and download a book in seconds, which is nice in a country where it can be difficult to get the books you want in English. Really, I am a huge promoter of this little device. But the one thing it has changed for me…I can’t skip to the end. It’s a pain in the butt on this digital wonder to get to the end of the book and back to the same spot. So, I’m forced to either 1. Not read anymore or 2. Open myself up for the journey and risk the end not being what I want. I have chosen to keep reading.
Of course this is all a big metaphor for my life right now. I want the last few pages. I want to know that this life I have turns out the way I want. I want to know how cancer plays itself out in the future. I want to know whether relationships are worth the investment. But these pages are not there to know and I am focusing on trying to embrace the journey.