Monday, October 25, 2010

Day 149 - 75% Done, Past the Icky Phase

Up for sale: 3 hours of chemo and 10 days of ickyness ... any takers? I
keep asking Mike (in my whiny, feeling defeated voice) if I have to do
the last treatment. "3 is better than none, right?" I say. I wonder what
the odds are that my Onc will say, "You know, you've done so well with
the last 3 treatments that I don't think you need to do the last one."
Like it's a reward for good behavior or getting my homework in on
time... or for not puking thus far into treatment. Mike always hugs me
and reminds me that I've come so far - and that I'm almost done, it's
almost over ... and that it's just one more.

So, 10 more days of ickyness left in this phase of treatment. He's right
- I've come this far. But how far is it really? I counted out the days.
My exchange surgery is day 193, which means one week after surgery
(which should be an adequate amount of "recovery") is the 200th day. 200
days of breast cancer. Could it really be that quick? 55% of a year. A
little over half of 2010. I never thought, as the new year turned over,
that I'd be spending half of the upcoming year battling cancer. And
really, from this side of things - that's really a misstatement. To me,
I'm not really battling cancer ... I'm battling treatment. If you think
about it, it was a lump, that was caught early, that gave no indication
of its presence, other than being palpable, and it never made me feel
sick. In that scenario, what is there to really "battle?" Treatment - on
the other hand - is quite the battle. Recovery from major surgery - an
amputation - a removal of a body part. The relearning of muscles that
are now in a new place and the regaining of strength in those muscles --
which extends beyond bench pressing. Opening the lid to a jar is a whole
new experience because you don't realize how much of your chest muscle
is used until you can actually feel the contraction of the muscle like
you do when it's put into a new, permanent position. And the battle to
get through chemo - well - it's a war on your system. Period. In the
early stages of cancer, Cancer wasn't really much of fight at all --
it's the surgeries and medications that are the heavyweights in the
ring, and you have to take them both on at the same time in order to
earn your belt.

Treatment is truly the physical and emotional battle that one has to
worry about with early stage cancer. But I've almost done. This part of
the battle is drawing to a close. And it's sad really, because there are
no winners when it's over. Yes, I've survived treatment and "should"
have many long years ahead of me. But there is still no cure - and
beyond that - there is no guarantee to years of life to come.

It's hard to think of Cancer as a gift - but in many ways, if you
survive it - it is. It's a perspective shifter - an outlook on life that
you couldn't possibly have without it coming into your life to start
with - for survivors and supporters alike. It's been a big month for the
Susan G. Komen foundation - an organization started by a supporter, for
her sister who didn't survive it. It's had a huge impact on a newly
married couple - testing their vows right out of the gate. A gift of
perspective - and a healthy dose of it. I see our future with new eyes,
with a new respect for the people that are important to me and with a
deepened sense of appreciation for the new day. I have an increased
willingness to take risks and face challenges ... to experience new
things. A heightened desire to do the things that I want to do, and to
do them now - and not put them off. All, not because I've "brushed with
death," because that certainly didn't happen but - because of the
indiscriminate nature of the beast.

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