Tomorrow is my last chemo treatment. As I reflect back, I can honestly say that none of this has been easy. I try and bring light to any situation but this one I am having a really hard time with. I’m grateful for the drugs that have stopped this ugly thing in it’s tracks. I’m grateful for my fight and my ability to keep my eyes on the finish line. I am grateful for my life and the continued ability to live it. I’m grateful for the chance to fight this and win. I plan to spend many, many happy and heathy years loving myself, my family and friends.
With that said…
This hasn’t come without trauma. I wouldn’t wish any of this on my worst enemy. I can say that no one can understand unless they have gone through it. It is my hope that no one I’m close with ever does. I don’t want them to understand. Dustin has been my champion through this. He has listened, comforted me when I’ve cried, pushed me when I didn’t think I could do anymore and loved me more with every step through this. I couldn’t have done it without his strength and reminders of what I am capable of. He has loved with without condition, showing me more and more everyday that we are a team and in this together. His part in this hasn’t been easy either but he has done anything and everything for me.
When I was diagnosed, I was scared of a lot of things. Losing my hair was near the top of the list of things I feared. Looking back, it didn’t hold a candle to many things. So many times I would hear, “thankfully, it’s just hair – it’ll grow back.” And that’s a true statement but, it was MY hair. It was my hair that fell out in clumps on my pillow case and laid in matted piles on the shower floor. My eyelashes, eyebrows and nose hairs (ack) are gone. While this may seem to effect things more on a vanity level, my eyes water constantly and my nose just will not stop running. I preach mask use so heavily but wearing one myself is difficult because of these things. Because I’m immune compromised, it’s important that I wear a mask whenever I go out. A runny nose and watery eyes make this almost impossible (not to mention very annoying). It was the beginning of a loss of a lot of things
I have lost close to 30 pounds. This isn’t typical in HL patients. I lost so much weight because the regimen of chemo I was given slowed down my whole digestive tract. My body could no longer process or absorb the nutrients of an actual meal.
I have over 40 prescriptions sitting on my night stand. Of them all, I take 3. The other 37 left me with horrible side effects that amplified the effects of chemo – while also having an impact on our finances. Hundreds of pills that could be flushed down the toilet tomorrow and a huge waste of money. It makes me sick to look at them.
My muscles have atrophied because I have been so ill the last six months, that standing upright was and still is difficult. My legs shake beneath me. I have months of specialized physical therapy ahead of me.
I have not had a proper nights sleep in months. If I move incorrectly, my bones throb with pain. Hugging Dustin and Grey makes my serotonin levels burst to the stars but it hurts. When all I want to do is snuggle up to them, I can’t.
My mind is a mess on many levels. Things that should take me mere minutes, takes me over an hour. I forget important things. My mind tricks me into thinking I’ve done those important things only to remember weeks later that I never did complete something. The depression and anxiety that has come along with all of this has been insurmountable at times. I try so hard to be positive but when I’ve literally felt these awful feelings in my bones, it’s been very difficult.
It’s difficult for me to watch the whole world go on without me. Life goes on as I try and recover to the best of my ability to make it to the next weeks treatment.
Time. I’ve lost time in every circumstance of my life. Time with my family and friends. Time showing what I am capable. Time to prove I am more than who this cancer has made me the last six months.
I’ve lost things about me that I loved. I miss the bubbly and happy me. I miss laughing at silly things. I miss having conversations that don’t involve cancer. I miss being able to have the energy to share my opinion. I miss the ability to show my fight to do the right thing, my commitment and my integrity. The reputation that I have worked years to build, seems to have vanished.
While tomorrow is “exciting” because it is my last chemo, it is also terrifying. That’s not to say I’m not grateful, because I am, eternally. I beat this thing. But to say I’m not scared about this new part of the ride wouldn’t be true.
After tomorrow, I begin rebuilding myself from the ground up. There is a lot of work to do. My heart is broken, in an emotional way. It’s in need of great repair. Through therapy and the continued prayers and good thoughts from those around me, I will be whole again. I will be me again but, a different me. My whole life changed the day I was diagnosed.
So while I will celebrate walking out of the doors of SCCA tomorrow, there are nerves and fears that will come along with that. And that’s ok. Because I’ll fight just as hard through this next round too.
If you are reading this and have just been diagnosed with HL, please don’t let this scare you. My story is my own and things may be completely different for you. To those who have listened to me endlessly, thank you. It has meant so much to me to know I have a soft place to lean on. Support during these last few months was so needed – my appreciation for you is deep.
I am very grateful but I am also very scared. 💜