I returned home recently from the last round of chemotherapy, and while it's taken me a bit longer than anticipated to finish this, I thought it would be an appropriate moment to (a). thank you all for your support and (b). write a bit about the end of treatment and what the future holds. So:
(a). Thank you all. Your support has been wonderful, and I am so grateful for everyone who has sacrificed time, money, or even just a positive thought for us during what has been a long, at times interminable, six months. I am supremely grateful for the love and support of Katina, proprietress of this weblog. Cancer treatment is unpleasant, but I am lucky to have a spouse who took so much on her shoulders so that I could focus on getting well. Also, she has good health insurance. I do not envy anyone who must continue to do all the ordinary business of regular life (shopping, child care, insurance companies, bills, etc.) on top of trying to stay positive and recover. Between Katina and you all, I have had the luxury to get well at my own pace without many external demands on me. Thank you. I really can't say enough about how much it meant to me and to us that so many people have been there in ways ranging from the biggest to the smallest.
(b). Treatment is over. There are no more hospital admissions scheduled, and I no longer have additional
poison medicine to
anticipate. The last PET/CT scan I had was negative. Technically, this does not
make me cancer-free. Instead, it means the machine was unable to detect any cancer
in my body - overlapping but non-identical categories. The last two rounds of
chemo were much less stressful for my body, and I've already started to notice
improvements in important departments, including (but not limited to) my
ability to grow eyebrows and hair on my head. While I don't yet feel strong, I feel
the capacity to become strong returning, and I look forward to sweeping out
some of the mental cobwebs from my working brain and starting regular exercise.
All of this is grounds for legitimate celebration, so I look forward to sharing
hugs and congratulations with our extended support network.
When it comes right down to it, I don't yet feel like celebrating. Partially, this is due to my temperament. An academic advisor of mine once dubbed me a "laconic midwesterner" and anyone who knows me knows this to be an accurate description, both geographically and attitudinally. I'm not a big jumper for joy by nature. The reservations I feel are more than emotional reserve, however. I wanted to write a brief thank-you to everyone, but I also felt I needed to write to clarify that my non-celebratory mood is more than just me being me.
Treatment is over, but we still can't be sure that cancer is. Cancer is definitely over for now, but just how long "for now" covers isn't yet clear. It is not impossible that we might find ourselves going back down the same road, only darker, in the coming months or years. Do I think that will happen? No. But when it comes down to it, the absolute last thing I want is to begin treatment again, while looking back on a celebration with the taste of ashes in my mouth because it turned out to be seriously premature.
So, you won't see me jumping for joy. What you will see, I hope, is me getting down to the business of living life again, free of the many constraints imposed by frequent hospitalizations and toxic medicines. You should also see me giving handshakes, hugs and words of gratitude to everyone who has been there for us in big ways and small in the last few months. We're planning on having a party at some point, but I won't be there to commemorate the end of cancer. I'll be there to celebrate (1). Katina and (2). everyone else whose kindness and care sustained us through this process. Thanks, guys.