At the risk of being delusional and believing that people are actually waiting for me to update them on where and what has been happening with me and to me, Ducatilad has been gently nudging (actually more like guilting) me to “just write 5 lines so that I can stop having to answer questions from people about what has been happening” In fact today it was down to “please just write one line” with the final guilt ridden line of “ I don’t ask you to do much”. Ouch!
Well as if one line was ever going to happen.
Where have the past 5 months gone?
Lost in the blur of chemo, trying to survive it all, trying to balance everything, trying to be kind to myself, trying to protect those I love from it and trying to pretend that it wasn't all happening.
But chemo has a habit of reminding you that you are in fact in the middle of what at times feels like a crude street fight, and just as you stagger to stand up it responds by slapping you hard in the face. (And I always swore I would never use a battle/fight analogy but that just seemed to appear on the page.)
I had my last chemo treatment on Friday 18th January.
That completed the 6 rounds that I was scheduled to have. They were delivered at 3 weekly intervals, perfectly timed for you to just start to feel almost human again before they deliver another dose of poison to your body.
The final round was one of the easiest physically – amazing how your idea of easy changes after 5 rounds of chemo. So apart from the diarrhoea, numbness in my fingers and toes and around my lips, the reflux, the esophageal thrush, the sore mouth, the taste buds that went AWOL with my appetite, and the insomnia I actually managed OK physically.
Emotionally, well that is a whole different story. I was honestly surprised at the overwhelming feelings that gatecrashed my world.
Given that I was working in the area of survivorship one would think I would have been all over this survivorship stuff - how surprising that I am actually not that different to anyone else. OK maybe it was just me that had the unrealistic expectation that I would do this whole thing well.
At the time I didn’t want to hear cheering and congratulatory wishes. I felt as though I should have been celebrating but I just couldn’t quite muster the enthusiasm for it. I didn't feel like I had made it through yet. Yes I knew at some level that all would be OK, that the chemo was my insurance policy (with a bloody huge excess to pay) and that it would only get better from here.
I was exhausted physically and emotionally, there were so many thoughts and feelings whirring around my head.
Everyone kept telling me that I would feel better. I knew that physically I would recover but I wasn’t so confident that emotionally it would feel better. There were many times that I actually silently told people to f*ck off cos you have no idea what it feels like from this side. (Glad my filters worked and this remained a silent conversation)
So it is now nearly 6 weeks since my last round.
Here I am, feeling well physically and in a whole different place emotionally. I feel like I have found myself again. Not a new self, or even a vastly improved self, but perhaps a little kinder self.
And yes I am grateful – no not for getting breast cancer. As I have already written previously I don’t buy into the whole “cancer gave me a gift” story (having a bilateral mastectomy and chemotherapy sure wasn’t on my list of things I must experience before I die) but for all the people I have in my life who love me and care about me and for the amazing medical team who treated me and for being able to access affordable first world medicine that will give me the chance to pay it all forward and most of all for airline competition that made it affordable to travel back and forth to Ducatlilad land to be looked after.
Oh there feels like there is so much more to fill in – each chemo treatment in all it’s glorious detail, the bizarre, the shitty, the laugh out loud moments and those special moments that will be forever etched on my heart.
But this will have to suffice; for Ducatilad, for all those who have been wondering if I made it through and for all those who cared enough to ask.
A few more than 5 lines and sadly it seems that guilt may still be a motivating factor in my life.
Still as always