Excited for chemo?
My last chemo treatment is tomorrow, and I am excited and eager, like it's a birthday party or something! Yes, I will still be hooked up to an IV drip of poison for three hours...and it will make me feel crappy for a few days...and it will make my feet a bit more numb, and my taste-buds funny...but for the last time! During my fifth treatment three weeks ago, I saw my first "last timer." It was emotional to see the nurse give her a special bottle of sparkling cider...then all eyes and smiles followed her to the big brass bell on the wall. She beamed as she tugged on the rope a few times, and the solid ringing symbolized her victory. Most of us teared up with happiness for her. She is a survivor!
This really isn't the last of the battle, just one segment. Diagnosis is a big hit to deal with, so I consider that the first challenge. For me, the next hurdle was the surgery, and for that, my trust is in the doctors to get everything out, and for my body to heal. I was lucky to not have big scars or too much recovery pain, and I felt better quickly. Chemo has been the longest, toughest part of this ordeal, and the end is in sight!
I started chemo more than four months ago, and I will be feeling the effects for another month or more. My amazing husband reminds me that when I tell people I feel "great," I am deceiving them, because I really feel some effects all of the time. Great to me on chemo is about 90% of the normal Mary. (Not that this Mary is ever really normal!) There is numbness in my feet and toes that doesn't affect how I do my job, so I wiggle my toes a lot and deal with it. There is vision change, that could affect my job, but it is fleeting and adjusts back quickly. The taste-bud thing is just irritating, and this last round it lingered longer and still is a bit odd. Other body aches and head fog I can ignore, but it does start to be a pain in the butt to always be hurting a little bit.
I've only had a couple of pity parties, that thankfully took less than an hour to get out of my system. If you find me shaking my head in disgust, it's that little nagging voice inside, saying, "Is it over yet?" That's why I'm excited! That voice will be gone soon, and my body will start recovering. My hair will slowly grow back, and I might start to feel like normal Mary some day.
As I start getting the residual effects of chemo out of my body, I will begin radiation treatments. That is yet another segment of this battle against cancer. Chemo kills any roaming cells that might have gotten loose in my body, and radiation will zap any tiny clusters that might have stuck around near the tumor site. It's something that has to be done.
These battles haven't changed me, and they have changed me. So far, I think I'm still the happy, caring, stubborn, smart-aleck of a mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend, and co-worker I've always been...but I'm also stronger, wiser, and more appreciative of everything around me. I am a survivor too, and will strive to keep that label for a long time!