When I started this blog, I named it the Last Cancer Blog with the great, slightly sarcastic and unrealistic hope that someday it would be true. Well, today, it is true! Today, this is MY last cancer blog. Today I completed treatment that began with a breast conserving surgery last November, followed by 6 rounds of Doxetaxol, Carboplatin and Perjeta, followed by 30 rounds of radiation and 11 additional IV infusions of Herceptin. Along the way, I lost my hair, my taste buds, my tear ducts, the feeling in my hands and feet, my mind at many points, my shit (literally and figuratively), and my sense of humor now and again. I gained an appreciation for anything that didn’t taste like concrete, for a good night’s sleep, for the strength to take a bath or go to work. I learned that people are so much more kind than you ever would imagine they would be, and that I was deserving of this incredible outpouring of love that got me through even the worst of days.
Being a writer, and a lover of metaphors, when this diagnosis first came into my life, I was NOT particularly enamored with the whole “cancer as war” analogy. It was something to fight, to beat, to survive, to rally the troops against. It was a battle, and I was to be a brave warrior, arming myself against chemo bombs and radiation blasts. Now, having come through it, it very much feels like the end of a war – and I do, indeed, feel like a winner.
Also, I really didn’t like the whole language around cancer being “a journey”. Along the way, I tried to come up with other comparisons. It was a roller coaster, a house of horrors, an endless trek up a mountain. There were times when it was a long road, and others when it felt like the tunnel with no light at the end.
And then, just when I thought I WAS at the end, I have had to face the truth that cancer is, indeed, a journey. You get your one way ticket upon hearing the hardest words you ever have to hear, and if you are lucky, you will keep traveling this road without ever hearing them again. Ya see, there’s always a chance of recurrence. Your doctors try to give you some range of probability, but the way I look at is, my chances are 0% or 100%. I’m going for zero.
I’m moving forward. I’m suiting up for the next part of the journey which means eating right and exercising, being emotionally and spiritually fit. I’m going to live one day at a time; like each day might be my last. I will wake up with gratitude for all I have; my family, my friends, my pets; for the medical team that cared for me, and for all of you who read, and wrote, and called, and texted. You will never know how much it meant to me.
As I end this blog, I do hope that our journey together will continue. I’m putting this single cancer occurrence into my rear view mirror, and I’m setting off in a new direction. As Robert Frost put it, “I have promises to keep. And miles to go before I sleep. And miles to go before I sleep.”