Thursday, June 22, 2017

The First Rays of Light

Today is my last chemotherapy infusion. It marks the first positive thing that I can associate with this experience since it all started three days before Christmas, 2016.

It is not the end, by any means. I'll spend the next few weeks feeling crummy and tired. I may lose the last of this peach fuzz on my head and these ever-thinning eyebrows. My energy will be zapped, and just a simple walk will feel like I'm climbing a mountain. 

But unlike the last three treatment cycles, once these after-effects begin to wear off and I start feeling better, it will be for good.  No more looming smack-downs.  No more little voices in my head saying, "Umm, yeah.  Don't get too excited about feeling good today, because that will end soon."  With this cycle I can finally do what I haven't been able to do all year:  Look forward and start to heal.

From the moment I was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer, our lives have been consumed by the present.  We wait for test results, focus on surgery, on my treatment plan, our next doctor's appointment, the next test.  I worried they'd recommend chemo, and I cried and stressed when they did.  Should I do it?  How bad will it be?  What will it do to my body?  How will my day-to-day life be altered?  Can I work?  Can I go out and do things?  How will this affect my family?  It's stressful and all-engrossing.  And embarking on chemotherapy is like walking through a long, dark tunnel.  Many times I stood in the middle, not able to see light at either end and wondered if I'd made the right choice to do it.  But once you enter that tunnel, you can't go back.  You have to just keep moving in the direction you started, feeling your way along clammy cold walls and trusting the people who promise it's the right path and that there really will be light at the other end.

Today, I finally see that glimmer of light up ahead.  The relief is overwhelming.

There's more to do.  I will have radiation next and hormone treatment after that.  But more than one oncologist has told me this period is the worst of it.  I'm at the summit, and once I complete this round, it's all down hill by comparison.  Finally, I can do something I haven't done since this year started, and that is to start focusing on the future with hope, relief, and a determination to make some positive changes in my life.

Today is a good, good day.

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