Three. (Or, survival by lilacs, virgin mojitos and red meat)

Yesterday I ticked off my third chemo box, leaving me with one more date with the red devil. Not hugely different from the first and second, only it was too early to find a way to have steak for breakfast. I’m going to make sure I leave time for it next time – I am blaming my sluggishness on the lack of early morning steak.

A few things that stick out for me about this particular visit to the blue chair:

The people who love me understand my need for symbolism, and for marking occasions, and celebrating each step taken toward recovery.  One of my very good friends who hasn’t worn heels in years brought hers and actually did a second entry into my room just to show me she was doing chemo ‘Tanya style’. Great moment – even though the heels were abandoned for more comfortable footwear in seconds.

My seester, me, and Krys, wearer of heels for special occasions.

My seester, me, and Krys, wearer of heels for special occasions.

This same friend brought her husband, who was amazing enough to get up early and bake homemade raisin loaf and bring it, still warm, to my 8:30 chemo session, complete with complimenting cheese and butter. We offered some to other patients and it was appreciated by all. These are the kind of friends I have getting me through this.

Seriously. Too bad you can't smell this picture.

Seriously. Too bad you can’t smell this picture.

It’s amazing how quickly two hours pass, surrounded by people who love you, people who you consider to be extended family, and your own family. My sister spent much of this session planning a ‘half-way done’ party. I have suggested that maybe we tone it down a bit and do a hike and a brunch as a gang, and it’s looking like this is going to work. I feel the need to celebrate by continuing to move my body and do the things I love to do – walk in the woods and eat (obviously there will be broccoli. And no chips.)

One thing that amazes me about this chemotherapy stuff is how even though it doesn’t hurt, and I’ve been very very lucky with my serious lack of miserable side effects to date, the body remembers. Somehow, after just two sessions chewing on those favourite sour-mint candies to mask the taste in my mouth during injections, I literally cannot stand the smell of them. I took them with me yesterday and was actually unable to remove them from my purse. I’ve been told that there are some things associated with chemo that I will never be able to look at again. I suspect those mints are already on the list.

After chemo this time, everyone was hungry, and we ended up having an impromptu lunch on my back deck, and my sister, mother and good family friend (who might as well be family) decided that because it was past noon, mojitos were in order, and they celebrated my third and made me a virgin (mojito, that is.) Everyone finds their way to mark these occasions, and let’s just say there was a lot of fresh mint purchased today in preparation for their new ‘tradition’. I look forward to it.

Their new tradition.

Their new tradition.

Mine.

Mine.

The fatigue has, I am forced to admit, kept me down since just after that lunch (I am hoping it’s not because I managed to eat two large sandwiches in one sitting — sorry, favourite oncologist!). I am tired. Not necessarily more so, but in longer jags. I assume this will continue to increase. I am a little worried, because my sanity is intact largely due to the fact that I have been able to continue to be social and get out and get fresh air, whether it’s lilac hunting or lunching with a great friend who flies in from out of town for the weekend to see me, or walking in the woods on my old running trails.

The smell of lilacs is possibly one of my favourite things- I go 'hunting' every year, and this year I have help.

The smell of lilacs is possibly one of my favourite things- I go ‘hunting’ every year, and this year I have help.

This is Jane, who travelled for the weekend just so she could 'give me a hug'. I am lucky.

This is Jane, who travelled for the weekend just so she could ‘give me a hug’. I am lucky.

If I am not able to continue to do these things as much, I will definitely continue to see the beauty in the fact that my sister pajama’d up for chemo 2, and my mom for chemo 3 – not too sure I’ll forget anytime soon snacking and watching old reruns of Sex and the City snuggled up with my mother on the couch last night. I will definitely continue to see the beauty in the fact that two very pregnant friends continue to drop over with home-cooked meals for me, and plant veggies in the garden with which I cannot deal this year. I am enveloped in the smell of lilacs inside my house, thanks to friends. I am flowers and vegetables and herbs growing in my garden because of friends, and I have a lawn that will continue to be mowed and weed whacked because of my friends. The meals I eat are planned behind the scenes, by my crazy-wonderful network of people who want me to be well. Who could possibly complain?

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2 thoughts on “Three. (Or, survival by lilacs, virgin mojitos and red meat)

  1. It’s a good age, really- the wonderful researchers who continually work their magic actually have been able to cut down chemo side effects with, ironically, other chemicals- it’s no free ride, but it surely is somewhat less debilitating…Your real upside, however, is your attitude. I love your idea that cancer has had the “audacity” to invade you- and you are kicking it away, Tanya- Huge respect, admiration and love every time I think of you!!

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