Thursday, October 10, 2013

Oct. 10, An Anniversary, of Sorts -

A year ago today, Oct. 10, I began chemotherapy treatments. You can read those posts here and here. As I look back at the pictures of that time and think about the firsts involved in my cancer treatment I'm scared, I taste fear even looking at the below picture. I see the angst and apprehension in my eyes as well as the "well, I'm here, let's get it over with" look. Hell, hell, hell is all I know how to describe that day. I was a lamb going to slaughter. I was so stinking innocent, and since, my eyes have been so opened to the pain and sorrow and loss that cancer can bring. Honestly - I still cannot believe I made it through the last year.

September 06, 2013 began my year of anniversaries rather than firsts. And I really don't know how to celebrate, commemorate, mourn them. Like today - I have a need to acknowledge that a year ago today I began chemo. How? Do I celebrate that I'm here to remember today or mourn the losses chemo brought into my life? And what happens when Saturday arrives, and that's the day chemo pain was so horrible I wanted to die, something I've never wanted before, such terrific pain that if I could have exploded, I would have (I think I was moments away from exploding). I can't blow off that day, nor the people who helped me survive my first chemo treatment - Irma, Cody, Cheryl, Betty, Carolyn, Mom, Scott.
(First day of chemo)

Do I commemorate losing my hair? How about finishing chemo? How about beginning radiation? How about ending radiation? How about hair growing back in? How about ending treatments? Or do I move on, as if this past year never happened?

How do I acknowledge the loss of life and gaining life? Isn't that really what happened? I am not the same person I was. And damn it, that makes me mad, in so many ways - I miss my snarkiness, my youth, my "to hell with it" me. And yet, laying in bed with Scott last night, talking about this, he shared, "You are better. So much more than you were. You are comfortable in you. You seem more calm, more sensitive, more generous." Of course I wanted to yell, "WTF? You mean I wasn't?" And then I answered my own question with his reply!

I've made it through the tunnel of hell, and I'm on the other side. I'm beaten - what I thought was going to be a drive in the country on a few dirt roads turned into an endurance drive through high winding roads with drop-offs on both sides, in rain, snow, low-lying clouds, and no idea of what was around the bend. The past year's drive had few elements of "fun," not many stops to view the scenery or roadside restaurants. Today I'm out of the clouds, onto paved roads, gazing at the fall leaves.

But wait - what I'm seeing in hindsight is this - the journey was exactly what I needed. No - not what I ordered, not what I wanted, not the road map I chose, but what I needed. And sometimes I/we don't see what I/we need until it has been given to me/us.

My road trip isn't over - still weight to lose, lessons to learn, mind to recharge, anxiety to calm, but now I have more confidence in the journey. Because of where I've been, I am a little more prepared for what might be around the corner. After all, I am beginning, again, what a gift! And I'm praying for sun - with a chance of surprise!

PS - We're going to a pumpkin farm and corn maze today with kids and grandkids. A perfect way to move forward!

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