Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Run/ Walk/ Bike/ Elliptical (Today: 3.39 miles; Running Total: 244.42 miles)
Day 278 of *Another* 100 Days of Good Karma.
I snuck out of the house early to run that 3.39 miles you see up there. In a strange turn of Houston weather, it was cool outside and the smell of confederate jasmine in the air seemed sweeter.
It was strange. I was excited to go to radiation.
The nurses counted down as they came into the room between breath holding treatment sessions. “Three more and you’re done.” “Two more.” “Last one.”
And then… it was over.
No more breath holding. No more making the yellow line turn green. No more burns. No more being hurt in the name of treatment.
I met with my doctor afterward treatment. I ran into my counselor on the way to the exam room. She had come down from the third floor to see my ringing out ceremony.
“Thank you for coming,” I said. I gave her a hug.
“I wouldn’t have missed it. You’re shaking!”
“I just can’t believe it’s over.”
After I getting my discharge instructions from my radiation oncologist I escorted the kids and Justin back into the treatment area for the bell ringing ceremony.
I received hugs from other cancer patients I’ve gotten to know from the waiting room. One woman is seventy five with either brain or sinus cancer. I’m not sure which. She’s sporting a pretty serious burn on her face that looks like the one under my arm. The burn goes across the bridge of her nose and in between her eyes. She pulled me down into a hug and I had to stoop to meet her short stature.
She whispered into my ear, “You’re going to be okay. I know it.”
“I hope so,” I said, a grin breaking through my tears. “You are too, you know.” I don’t know that but I want to believe it as much as she wants to believe I’ll be okay.
“Honey, if this,” she pointed to her face, “doesn’t kill what I have then there’s no hope.”
I squeezed her hand. “There’s always hope,” I said. It felt like a cheesy thing to say, but it also felt true and in the moment I believed it completely.
The kids and Justin came back for the bell ringing. The nurses gathered around and my counselor stood with them. Behind her stood my radiation oncologist who’d heard the commotion in the hallway and come out to see the ceremony. Justin stood to the side taking pictures.
They pointed to the plaque. One asked, “Did you read it?”
I have, but I read it again, slowly and carefully, trying to absorb each word.
“Anytime?” I asked, once I’d finished the words, felt them deep down.
“Anytime you’re ready.”
I rang that bell. I rang it loud. I felt the rope vibrate in my hands, and that clear bright sound bounced down the hallway.
I rang it again.
And then a third time.
And I stepped back and covered my face and cry-laughed into my hands.
Hannah approached warily.
“Can I ring it?” she asked.
I shook my head and suppressed the urge to block her view of the bell, stop her from touching it. As if by preventing her from touching it I could stop her from getting cancer someday. “No, baby. And I hope you never have to.”
I made everyone pose for pictures. Connor played his tablet through the whole ceremony. He didn’t understand what this all meant or how big a deal this day was for me. Nor should he. He’s six. It was enough that he was there with me.
I went home and took a nap. And I ate a giant cheeseburger with a large side of onion rings from Whataburger. Feeling ornery I texted a picture of it to a friend who’s currently residing out of state and going through serious Texas food withdrawals.
It felt good to be goofy.
Later, Justin and I cracked open a bottle of wine way more expensive than we normally buy. We bought this before chemo started and have had it sitting on the shelf waiting for the end of treatment. And here we are. I think it tasted better for the waiting.
Today’s silver lining: It’s over. Treatment is over.
Wow. What a long, long road.
I’m still scared to death the cancer will come back. I still worry about the future. But I look back at how far I’ve come and I’m stunned.
I was poisoned for six months, I lost a body part, and I’ve been given radiation burns.
And I ran. Through the whole thing. I only started tracking my mileage three months in, so that 244 miles up there is probably more like 344. Maybe more.
And I wrote a blog post every day whether I wanted to or not, because it seemed important to document this somehow. To leave something for my kids and grandkids and great grandkids to read so they’ll know how hard I worked to meet them someday.
I have permanently deleted the word can’t from my vocabulary.
I gave myself small goals throughout treatment and I knocked them down. Each and every one.
And I’m not done yet.
I still have to finish this third and final round of 100 days of Good Karma posts. So you and I aren’t finished yet.
I don’t know what to expect tomorrow. No radiation. No chemo. No surgery. There’s a few follow up doctors appointments in a few weeks, but the big show is over.
The prospect is a little frightening. A lot frightening.
I know I have a long road ahead toward both physical and mental recovery. For this moment, though, I am happy. I am relieved. And I am utterly and completely exhausted.
I hope I can live up to the life I have earned back.
Thank you for traveling this road with me.
What’s your silver lining today? I love comments!
Don’t want to leave a comment, but have something you want to share? Send me an email at gettingthewordswrong(at)gmail(dot)com.