Health update: I'm 10 days post-chemo treatment #3, and 11 days away from treatment #4. This round was tough. After my second treatment, I heard a lot of "you're half-way done!" to which I could only smile and say, "Yep." I get the positivity, and depending on how I felt that day, I may have even shared your enthusiasm. But that's also a tough thing to hear when you know you have months of surgery, recovery, and more treatment ahead.
I am VERY grateful I have tolerated treatment well, in spite of the numerous side effects. There are the effects people can see, and the effects people can't see, which honestly are much tougher to deal with. I am hoping for six weeks of recovery after my final round, then also hoping to fully enjoy Houston's graduation and soccer festivities before heading into the next phase of this journey.
When 2021 began, my son let me know he was working on his goals for the new year. He wanted to have an even number of 20 things he was working toward, but was still wrestling with exactly what they should be. I said, "Hey, just get cancer, then you really only have one goal!" (remember, dark humor = family coping) While funny at the time, I had no idea how this one thing in my life would be feel so all-consuming. Early on, that meant nearly every day was filled with tests, phone calls, and appointments. Once treatment started, that meant more of the same, but also the added stuff of physical symptoms and the emotional toll. It's a lot.
I have always been a high energy person. I have a high capacity to juggle responsibilities well, and thrive when I have multiple plates spinning. Over the years, I have been cautioned, criticized, and occasionally commended for this ability, and I have been made aware of the pitfalls associated with the kind of life I've chosen to live. However, I am also the kind of person that needs a significant amount of time alone, and when I get it, I spend a LOT of time thinking through my roles and responsibilities. So, I will add this; I quit apologizing for the speed at which I do life, long ago. You do you. I'll do me. Enough said.
Since closing down a business in 2017, I have been working toward simplifying my life in a few key areas. Whether it was turning 50, or anticipating an empty nest, or just a desire to finally be fully invested in my professional pursuits, I knew it was time to settle into a different speed of life. I put up some speed limit signs in my life over the past few months. For me, that meant getting off the interstate, driving 75, (okay - 80), and trying to hold it back to 55. While there have been days when that felt incredibly slow, I have also enjoyed the more leisurely pace. And then cancer. All of a sudden, it felt like I was driving in a school zone every place I went. Occasionally, it's felt like finding myself behind a school bus that stops and every intersection and railroad crossing. Stop signs everywhere. Roads closed. Many days, it has felt like my life has been reduced to leaving the car in the garage, then sitting on the front porch like my grandpa Herman used to do. Just sitting and watching the world go by.
I've been tired before, but never felt fatigue like I've felt the past couple of months. Between rounds 2 and 3, there was a day when I had enough energy for some fleeting thoughts about actually dreaming about the future and making some plans. I decided to make time later in the day to do just that. By the time I sat down to dream, I didn't have the energy to think anymore. So frustrating. I talk to God about it. He keeps saying, "You have one job. Just do your one job and get well." I keep wishing He'd follow up with other statements like, "Here's what's coming next," or "Get ready for this amazing thing" but He doesn't say those things. I do think all of this is preparation for the next season of my life, whatever that is. I thought I knew. Maybe I don't.
One of the hardest parts is of all this really is watching other people drive by, drive away, and drive fast and far. I keep telling God I'm missing out on things; opportunities, experiences, adventures. Again, He says, "Just do the one thing I've given you to do. Get well." Me, doing one thing. What a concept.
So, if you need me, I'll be over here in the repair shop, waiting on parts, getting a tune-up, a new paint job, and finding out exactly what speed the new me will be capable of driving. It will be a glorious day when I get the keys back and can take her out for a spin. Until then, I think it's time for another nap.
Update I would have given had I posted this blog a few days ago when I originally intended to post it, but didn’t:
I am currently in the window when I feel pretty good. I’m grateful for these days when my I have more energy and can enjoy some normalcy, which really isn’t normal at all, but I’ll take it. The next round of chemo is looming and I’m dreading it, knowing how I’ll feel for 7-10 days after treatment. But again, I know the symptoms mean the drugs are doing their job, so it’s all good. I was somewhat prepared for the physical toll this would take on my body. I was not prepared for the emotional toll. It’s real and deep and raw. I am trusting there is great purpose in that as well, as if those symptoms mean this journey is doing it’s job on my heart.
Update for today!
Today is chemo day. Bless these meds. May they defeat the enemy. And may I weather these next days well.
I had intended to finish this blog during my treatment. That didn’t happen because I had ice packs on my hands and feet. So, it’s 9:20 p.m. and I’m exhausted. But I’m determined to finally post this thing. Which means, you’re getting brief thoughts about random things. It’ll have to do. I make no promises that this entry will be profound or inspiring, so read at your own risk.
1. I miss my hair. But gaining an extra 20 minutes of sleep every day has definitely been a nice thing.
2. I have been gifted a couple of plants and purchased a few more for my kitchen and living room. Green is a game-changer when you need signs of life around you.
3. One of the best things about growing up in a 4-season state like Nebraska is that you’ve learned to push through certain days because you know different days are coming. 105 degree July afternoons are more tolerable because October days are on the horizon. A ten-day stretch of below-zero temps and a foot of snow, though not fun, are doable when you know there will be a Spring. Those are helpful life lessons on days like today.
4. Best thing my doctor said at my last appointment - Let people help you. Best thing she said today - There is a light at the end of this tunnel.
5. If you don’t follow my cat yet on Instagram, you really should. @leosits I guarantee he’ll bring a little joy to your life. (I told you this list would be random)
6. There have been many days on this journey when it would have been easier to stay in bed. And there have been days when I probably should have stayed in bed and didn’t. I’ll admit sometimes I look back on some days and think I maybe didn’t make the best decision. But, I do think I make the best decision in the moment with the information I have so I’m giving myself grace in that area. The moments of good energy make me feel like I can do anything, so I try. The problem is that energy doesn’t last as long as it used to. The good news is I get a new day tomorrow to make a better decision if I can.
7. I have the most eclectic group of friends who have walked this journey with me. I am blown away by their kindness, humor, and empathy, every, single day.
8. Dear taste buds, when you come back, and I pray you come back soon, I promise to treat you better.
9. I was swapping chemo stories with my friend Joel the other day. We laughed, I cried, he spoke kindness and encouragement. Such a gift.
10. One of my biggest concerns going into this was missing out on some big moments, mostly with my youngest, Houston, as this is his senior year. But as I looked at the calendar, I noticed how all the events I told cancer I wouldn’t miss, will take place on days when I should feel pretty good. I tear up just thinking about it. Those are moments of mercy I do not deserve. Thank you, God.