Walking it off

Prepping for the next phase of this trip has been interesting to say the least. A friend remarked yesterday that the emotions couldn’t possibly be simple, that they must be complex and that in some ways finishing chemo has to make for some complicated processing and some purposeful self-talk. 

Correct. One would think it would be cause only for celebration, that there couldn’t possibly be part of me that would NOT want chemo to end.

Not so. Of course I’m happy to be done with those sessions, and I am looking forward to NOT going to the hospital to get hooked up this coming Tuesday.

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(I have a collection of Pondering Pool cards – came across this one just this week and had to laugh.)

That said, it also means that there is no longer a drug racing around in my body killing off any nasty hangers-on. Scary. At no point has anyone offered to check, or to scan me to see if there’s anything left that could cause damage. The scans that terrified me at the beginning of my treatment are now tests for which I long. I want someone to tell me there’s no sign of anything happening. I want someone to tell me it’s all going to be okay. Although I’m rejoicing in every little downy hair I see coming in and I am really looking forward to being able to leave my house without ‘painting on my face’, the thought of finishing treatment fills me with dread a little bit, because there’s part of me that takes much solace in the fact that every two weeks action was being taken, and that every day for the next five weeks or so, more action will be taken to make sure that this cancer is eradicated from my body. After that, …. I wait, and I guess I take a bit of a leap of faith and trust that all of this has been worth it. 

In the meantime, I’ve been trying to get back into my own skin again, feel like myself, reconnect with my physical self and walk off some of this stress. Last week I reactivated my GPS app on my phone and clocked the kilometres I walked, About 35km got logged into my phone last week, which makes me feel stronger and kind of like I’m putting distance between me and this disease. There is a certain beauty to leaving chemotherapy behind and walking toward the rest of my life. 

Next stop, radiation! 

 

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Best. Day. Ever.

I’ve gone on and on about all of the things I’ve longed to do during treatment. I live in a place surrounded by water and rock and I have spent my entire life living on a big body of water. For me to go an entire summer without connecting with that water is inconceivable. That said, I realize that I haven’t done enough of some of the things I really love. We put things off; we get busy and assume there will always be another day. The weather’s not perfect; the water’s a bit cold; it looks like rain. One thing I like to think I’ve learned during this treatment is that I need to jump at the opportunity to do the things I love whenever it presents itself.

Chemo done, PICC line out, I packed the day after, which I know will be relatively side-effect-free, with the things I love. Kids off to school on the bus in the morning, the sun is shining and it’s not-too-hot-not-too-cold and I am SO excited. Trail walk/run on a sweet, secluded, sun-dappled trail that’s had just enough rain to promise lush greenery and beautiful black mud to play in. 4.5 km. Check. Happy, smelly, muddy dog. Check. Elation. Check.

ImageNext is a paddle. I am SO happy to have the kind of friends who can, at a moment’s notice, throw a canoe on top of their cars and swing by to pick me up to go for a quick paddle around a lake. How amazing is it to be able to grab my paddle, drive five minutes from my house and be in a lake within minutes?? Heaven. It’s been over a year since I held a paddle in my hand and reconnected with that rhythm that only paddling can offer. Since having my PICC line inserted, I have completely lost the connection with muscle, and I have watched the strength I had in my arms gained from running and weights gradually turn to roundness. Pure joy to feel my muscles working again. On the water, listening to the splashing -on-kevlar-and-wood, I feel at peace, all chakras aligned. When people encouraged me to find my happy place at the beginning of treatment, this was it. So happy to finally be able to go there!

ImageFinally, after the boys are home from school, we pack towels and bathing suits and head out to a friend’s camp. I am determined to fit it all into one day. Trail, paddle, swim. It’s September, and it’s supper time, and the sun is starting its descent over the lake, and it’s chilly. But I am finally, after longing for it all summer, able to swim. Again – a total reconnect. Legs remembering how to egg-beater in place, body encountering warm spots and cool spots in the spring-fed lake so typical of where I live, and a good long swim out toward the middle of the lake, which is the perspective I’ve been yearning for, with my eldest son, whose grin goes ear to ear and whose pure joy at being able to swim with his mama as we love to do makes every minute of every treatment worthwhile.

There is an innate ability in most Northerners that I know to brave waters right up until a thin layer of ice starts to cover them. I am hoping for a long fall.

There is an innate ability in most Northerners that I know to brave waters right up until a thin layer of ice starts to cover them. I am hoping for a long fall.

Best. Day. Ever.

Fabulous finale (or, how I convinced my father to wear a wig)

She rearranged her schedule to be with me at every single chemo. She bought these shirts especially for this last one.

Me and my sister, Monique, who rearranged her schedule to be with me at every single chemo. She bought these shirts especially for this last one.

Barb took time off her lunch to come and see me; she was basically holding me up at this point because the Benadryl was doing its work, along with the Ativan.

Barb took time off her lunch to come and see me; she was basically holding me up at this point because the Benadryl was doing its work, along with the Ativan.

Me and two good friends, Marlene and Cheri. Cheri postponed her flight home so that she could be part of this.

Me and two good friends, Marlene and Cheri. Cheri postponed her flight home so that she could be part of this. Marlene has promised to be my paddling partner this fall.

Kristi, Rebekah, me and Rike - Rike is in town for a few months and is the same one who flew in to surprise me at my pre-surgery party.

Kristi, Rebekah, me and Rike – Rike is in town for a few months and is the same one who flew in to surprise me at my pre-surgery party. Rebekah is one of my trail walking partners, and Kristi and I have known each other since we were 14.

Me and my boys, and yes. My father, maybe a little unimpressed that he's wearing my glamour wig. Love.

Me and my boys, and yes. My father, maybe a little unimpressed that he’s wearing my glamour wig. Love.

Tiffany and me - she rocks this wig at disco parties as well.

Tiffany and me – she rocks this wig at disco parties as well. This is the girl referred to as my bff, or bestie, or best friend. She is all of these things.

Ally is the one who drove my children to and from school from the time of my diagnosis on. Erica met me for coffees and saved me during emergency crying jags at the hospital after traumatizing appointments.

Ally is the one who drove my children to and from school from the time of my diagnosis on. Erica met me for coffees and saved me during emergency crying jags at the hospital after traumatizing appointments.

Cheers. It's a shame that this one is blurry. Back at my place, we gathered for some well-deserved Prosecco. My parents have been absolute rocks for me from day of diagnosis. I am thankful.

Cheers. It’s a shame that this one is blurry. Back at my place, we gathered for some well-deserved Prosecco. My parents have been absolute rocks for me from day of diagnosis. I am thankful.

I hope everyone is okay with me sharing their details in such a public way. I needed to give just a glimpse into how supportive and wonderful these people I am lucky enough to call friends and family truly are. I am a lucky, lucky woman. There are others who showed up, fully costumed, who I didn’t get pictures of. It’ll come.

Chemotherapy is done. My PICC line is out. I had one day of energy in front of me before I knew the side effects would kick in.

Any guesses to how I filled my day?

Glorious. Stay tuned.