As I recently mentioned in a post, there are a lot of anniversaries that I recall vividly from both my bouts with cancer. Today, April 26, is one of those. It was exactly 1 year ago that I began chemotherapy. I just read my post from the night before chemo started. And I was struck by the fact, that those were some of my final thoughts before all those chemicals would enter my body, and more importantly and significantly, my brain.
The long road of treatment and recovery has provided me a body free of cancer, yet weakened. Each day, I must pause to make sure I don’t over-extend myself. I have to nap almost every day. I haven’t jogged or rode my bike since that day one year ago. While this is the reality of my new life, the brutal fact is that my situation is not rare, not unique, and sadly, far too common. In fact, I could be considered the lucky one.
Today, a friend is burying her father who just passed from cancer. And another friend is recovering from the double mastectomy that she had last week. A third friend is about to travel 1,500 miles to take care of her mom. Three members of my cancer support group have passed away since Thanksgiving. All real life reminders that cancer affects so many people and their families.
And those are the obvious life and death reminders. There are many hidden costs to cancer as well – like chemo brain, infertility, and neuropathy, to name a few – that linger long after treatment. I was hardly thinking of these 12 months ago. I was just hoping that I would tolerate the chemo and that it would work. I was asked recently if I ever thought I was going to die. My answer was “that once I knew that we were dealing with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, no, I never thought that I could die”. But I was afraid that the chemo could affect my life long after treatment was over. And so far, I would say that I was right to think that.
To summarize, it’s been a year now since I first received chemotherapy. I am still healing. My life with cancer continues. I am still HUMAN.
[here’s a great picture of Shannon that I will share – she and her mom did some painting last weekend in our front yard]