No more Herceptin. No more infusions. No more pink chairs and chemo nurses and my favorite pharmacist who mixed my drugs with me in mind. No more hours spent waiting. No more hours spent visiting, hours spent observing, hours spent thinking. No more personal retreats to a place that became home. No more powerful potions saving me from cancer. No more bald head. No more sprouts of short brown curly hair. No more every-third Wednesday. No more. No more. No more.
It’s only me. And my port that I will keep. Just in case. And a stop every month to keep it clean. And one scan of my heart. To check for damage. And periodic follow-ups. And longer brown curly hair. Long enough to pull back, straighten, style. And memories of a place that took cancer away and gave me a life more precious than ever before. A life that is all my own. On my own.
One year behind me. Fifty-two weeks of treatment. Seventeen infusions. All above and beyond my initial treatment plan. An extra protection to stop cancer from returning. Because of studies and trials and women who lost their lives before me, I benefit. I am a recipient of this wonder drug. I am a recipient of the gift of life. I am happy. I am relieved. I am thankful. I am overwhelmed. I am sad.
No more active treatment. No more help from cancer-fighting drugs. No more constant attention. No more company in strangers who are like me. No more strength in numbers.
Just me. And my safety nets. Zoloft. Counseling. Family. Friends. Writing. Sharing. Praying. Helping. Honoring. Hoping. Laughing. Making sense of it all. Making it matter.
Today, the real surviving begins.
I plan to continue writing in this personal blog but my posts are not so frequent anymore — which is a good thing really. It means my breast cancer story is not so dramatic and exciting these days. I am, however, writing everyday — twice a day actually — for the Cancer Blog. And while my posts are intended to educate readers about anything cancer-related, each one has a personal element and somehow relates to my journey with cancer. So if you would like to read more than you find on this blog, please visit me at the Cancer Blog.
A link is located at the top of this page, in the right-hand column. When you arrive at the Cancer Blog page, look for a section that says sponsored links, in the right-hand column. Underneath this, you will see a listing of the Cancer Blog bloggers. Click on my name and everything I’ve written will appear. Scroll down and see what you find. In addition to writing the posts, I also write my own headlines and add photos. As of today, I have written 39 posts.
Please note that for some posts, only a short portion of the entry will appear. Click on the blue line of text below this short portion that prompts you to continue reading.
Happy reading, my friends and family!
I went for my Herceptin infusion today thinking that after today’s dose, I had two more infusions ahead of me. But I don’t have two more remaining — I have one. So the end, which seemed so far away at the beginning, is upon me. The end of 52 whole weeks of Herceptin. The end of my visits on every third Wednesday. The end of the pink recliner and the community of cancer patients who surround me. The end of chemo nurses taking care of me. And maybe most important — the end of my own little getaway that was scheduled and required and never canceled. While John watched the boys, I spent several hours relaxing, thinking, breathing, reading, sleeping. Despite the reason for my mini-vacations over the past year — cancer — I have enjoyed the peace and the quiet and the time for reflection. Here are some of my reflections as my last visit to the infusion center approaches on June 28 and this one-year treatment comes to a close.
- There is light at the end of the tunnel. I have been tunneling through this cancer journey for almost 19 months and I can truly look back and wonder where the time has gone. Some days are long and some moments are bad, but time does heal wounds and pain and despair — and the light of the world does return.
- My children are more beautiful and glorious to me now than they ever have been.
- Some people do not get to live their lives over again — I do. And I want no regrets.
- I have many angels in my life — family and friends and people who have never met me. They are priceless.
- Hair does grow back. Mine was only just sprouting when I received my first Herceptin dose in July 2005 and now it’s long enough to pull into a clip.
- My port is a gift. Never have my veins been stuck or injured or damaged by needles or drugs. I watched a nurse today struggle to insert an IV into a man’s arm. One quick stick is all it takes to access my port and drugs flow in effortlessly and efficiently.
- Medicine is powerful. It saved my life.
- Attitude is powerful. It saved my life.
- Cancer survivors are powerful. They empower me and inspire me and make me want to fight.
- Everything happens for a reason. Whatever the reason, I am okay with having had cancer.
- I can find many silver linings in my cancer cloud — and one day, I’ll post them here.
For today, I will stop. My three boys are outside playing in the yard — two of them are wearing Superman pajamas and capes — and I don’t want to miss the moment.