I have tried to come here and write many times in that last few days and never even end up making it to the New Post page. It is not that there is not much to share, I think it is that there is too much to share.
One week ago, I walked into the cancer center for what would be my last time of receiving chemotherapy treatment. Quite soon after arriving I learned my counts were low but just high enough that I was still able to receive treatment. As many of my treatments have been, the nurses had trouble placing my IV in my vein. So much so this time that it took three tries. I made it as far as receiving my pre medicines before my IV slipped from my vein and I felt a sharp sting into my skin. The fluids were now making their way underneath my skin. So we started again.
My mom and I brought cookies to share with the infusion room and she filled treat bags with easter candy. We wanted to share the day but not make too much of the fact that it was my last round. I simply could not do it when so many others around me were on their 9th, 10th rounds and counting…. No bell ringing in celebration. No sign announcing my last round. Just me, my mom and a dear friend.
We knew. I knew, it was the last time.
So while the day emotional and filled with great joy, it found me very introspective. And you see that is where I am found today.
The end of this has felt like the very beginning all over again.
Just yesterday while at work I spoke to a co-worker and referred to others in the infusion room as “those people”. She chuckled at my comment and I kindly asked what was funny. She said, “Oh nothing, just that you say that as though you are not one of them.”
Last night while lying awake around two o’clock I thought about my choice of words. How my brain automatically switched. I thought to myself why and how could I refer to others as “those people”. I knew I must apologise first thing this morning. When trying to explain to her, I started to cry, ” You see the thing is, I just don’t see myself as one of them. I just don’t. This does not seem real. It has not seemed real at all. But yet now, now it is all too real.”
My guard, that has so graciously been present has now been removed. My robotic way of going through the motions. The appointments, the bills and the schedule have now found me crumbled in my tears on my knees begging for this ache to disappear. Asking that this reality that has been breast cancer to somehow not be real.
My tears meet me in the mirror when I stare at a face I hardly recognize. Asking that the hair that no longer meets my shoulders would come back. That my eyebrows that are fading would reappear. My fingernails, brittle, sore and now looking as though I shut them in a door bruised would be strong. My body does not work like it should. It hurts. Nothing tastes good. My mouth is sore. My stomach is full. And my body has had enough.
Monday, I boarded the airplane flying back from Houston with a mask over my face and a hat on my head. I made my way to my seat to find empty chairs next to me. Before the plane took off I placed my bag at the window and curled up on my side. I fell asleep right away.
My body is exhausted and so am I.
While standing next to the baggage claim a man asked what color my bag was so that he could get it for me. My gut reaction was that I did not need assistance, but yet I was relieved, welcoming his invitation. One less thing. I do not have to do it all on my own. He retrieved my bag and I said thank you. He said take care of yourself.
I said Thank You, I will, as my eyes filled with water.
And so here I am trying. Trying to do just that. My counts are as the doctors predicted dropping as I type. I will arrive back to the hospital tomorrow for blood work and most likely a shot to boost my immune system.
In the meantime, I have spent more time awake in my bed than awake out of it. Sleeping has become a bit of a nightmare. My hot flashes have reached a new temperature level and are very uncomfortable. Just now as I type from my bed I am quickly removing covers as my head and face pour over with sweat.
The reality of cancer is alive and well in my life these days and I am taking these moments to attempt to extend grace to my stubborn self. I am only leaving the house to go to work and come home. Full mask attire at all times. Seems everyone around me is coughing, sneezing and I cannot risk getting sick.
So in reading this can you lift me up? Can you keep praying? My heart is very weary. For so many things, but most of all for what I am finding as I am embrace what this journey has been. I have asked myself to be present with all my emotions. To feel and to not resist. But the feeling of all of this is nearly breaking my heart.
In two weeks time I will go in for my blood draw and marker check. The blood work will check to see if any of the cancer proteins remain in my blood. This will “officially” or “unofficially” make me clear. So while the assumption is that the chemo cleaned up what little the doctors did not remove in my mastectomy, the final test is the blood work. So the next two weeks are a heavy time.
While I await the next few weeks to pass, I am graciously embracing the gentle ways God has met me in my tears. How he has reminded me of who he is. Who I am.
I am starting to dream about what living well beyond cancer looks like and that makes me smile. Not because I intend to go to extremes but rather I yearn to embrace so much more of who I am. Leaning more into the woman I believe he crafted me to be and seeking so much more grace in the midst of this thing called life.
I have so many words to share soon about my time in Texas with my folks, attending the Rodeo and how there is a large part of my heart that is with the Kara Tippets family. In do time I will share….
Suffering is never a meaningless waste of your life, but a meaningful way through your life. Sometimes the most painful chapters of our lives —- are the most meaningful chapters of our lives. Suffering doesn’t have to destroy our ultimate life purpose, but can ultimately achieve our purpose in life. – A Holy Experience