A year ago today, I sat down in the big easy-chair for, what I hope very much is, my last chemo treatment.
Anniversaries and the passing of time matter to me, so I have been a bit extra-reflective (suitable for night riding!) lately.
Last year, in the months leading up to my last chemo appointment, all I wanted was for it to end, to get to treatment number 8 and to say adios to the lovely chemo nurses of the BCCA.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, at around treatment number 6, my oncologist was away at a conference so I ended up seeing a different oncologist and I mentioned my hopeful anticipation of the end of chemo.
She mentioned that lots of people suffer a sort of let-down after they finish their treatments, that they expect the world will embrace them with blue skies and gentle breezes and it turns out, there is a lot of adjusting and adapting to do.
I ‘pssshhhawww’ed her at the time. Much as it had been a miserable year, I still knew I had had a pretty good ride and that I had very little to complain about.
If you are going to go through a shitty situation like ovarian cancer, you might want to get as many good breaks as I did.
I had a really good gynecological/oncologist surgeon, which makes a massive difference in a person’s survival rate. Really, the statistics are shocking.
I had a super-fucking-girlfriend who stood beside me the whole way and held my hand and paid the bills and kept a roof over our heads for close to a year while I was sick or getting back from being sick. She listened to me be sad and scared and miserable, and I don’t know if she ever told anyone how sad and scared and miserable she was.
I had a great group of friends who circled the wagons and just helped me out so much.
It was an amazing process.
And to be completely honest, some folks faded to the background when things got tough, and other people, people I hadn’t connected with in years, just hopped back in my life and said, “How can I help?”.
So, I knew I had a pretty good version of a pretty crappy situation. I wouldn’t recommend a year going through treatments for ovarian cancer to anyone.
But for a crappy situation, I kind of had the best case scenario on many levels.
And all the same, last year sucked great green monkey dicks.
It most certainly did.
So, when the stand-in oncologist told me not to get too jacked up about what a swell and truly glamorous life I would have, apres-chemo, I thanked her for her advice, but thought her misguided.
Funny thing is, this year has sucked some pretty serious green monkey dicks in its own right, though not nearly as bad or as dramatic as last year.
But my point is, Novembrance day is, for me, now, about reflection.
I remember all too well my pudgy little bald and moon-faced self sitting there, plastered on Benadryl and Gravol, and Taxol and Carboplatin.
I remember what it’s like to feel my veins go in to spasm.
I remember what it’s like to feel mediocre and know that you are only at the top of the downward spiral and to know all too well how crappy you were about to feel, only add a little extra cuz it gets just a bit worse each time.
I am so glad it is, fingers crossed, behind me.
But it does feel like a time for reflection.
I am truly grateful for all the love and support I have received from my friends and family and loved ones, and most of all, from Elaine.
I am grateful to all the strangers who made the time to help me out when I was so sick.
I am grateful to all the people who wandered back into my life and helped me, no matter how many years had gone by.
I am especially grateful to the women I have ‘met’ online, the other OVCA survivors, who get all the angles of it, and lessen the feeling of freaky, lonely isolation.
Thank you ( and a special thank you to Margaret. R.I.P.)
People talk a lot about how cancer changes you, and that’s true.
It changes a person on a whole lot of levels.
And lots of them are awful.
For me, I got at least one good change, because I got to see how spectacular people can be when things get kind of fucky on a major level.
And a year later, it’s been way harder than I ever expected it would be.
I suspect I have been a bit prickly, this last year.
And, you know, in almost all cases, I feel pretty okay with that.
Like, for those folks at work who think I am crabby, let me just say, fuck yeah I am.
Tell ya what… you get some guy in a lab coat to tell you that you have a 70% chance of cashing in your chips in the next 5 years and see how that impacts your sunny disposition, stupid hippie.
So, I have been crabby.
To Elaine, let me say, sorry about that.
To everyone else… sorry, but I am not really that sorry.
I think a lot of stuff came crashing up to the surface when I got better and I was crabby and irrational and tired of stupid bullshit.
So, I’ve been terse.
The bulk of the last year has been spent just trying to get my bearings.
When I was doing chemo, they told me it takes about a year till you feel normal again.
About two weeks ago, I got really tired of being crabby and unhappy all the time.
I started thinking that I, as much as anyone, should know that there are absolutely no guarantees that I will live to be 85 years old and playing in the Seniors Tour of the Dinah Shore Classic and chasing my caddie around in my Harley Davidson golf cart.
I think I had every right to feel those emotions, and I think I needed to feel them, and if they come back and knock on my door, I will feel them some more.
But mostly, after about a year, I am kind of bored with being angry all the time.
I shocked myself when I sat back and thought about how much time I had spent feeling crappy or feeling sorry for myself.
I kept thinking, “If I had a recurrence tomorrow, I would be so pissed off that I didn’t make the most of this time.”
So, now, that’s what I am trying to do.
It’s a hard process, in some ways, because I started the year full of Lance Armstrong optimism but I kind of had some terrible crappy thing fall down on me whenever I looked up and it took its toll.
I got like a hand-shy dog after a while, and, as these things go, things carried on being crappy.
So, I really thought a lot about how completely pissed off I would be if I got sick again and I had wasted this time being miserable about so many things.
And, I do want to say, that the last year and a half of my life have thrown me a few curveballs.
But I am tired of being unhappy and I wanted to do some things differently.
So, that’s what I am trying.
I am trying to assume I will have good days, and I wake up each day and ask myself what kind of day I want to have that day. Because I actually have a rather enormous amount of control over what kind of day I have. A lot more control than I have been exercising lately.
So, I am on it.
I am trying to shed that old skin that was so bruised and tattered and start fresh.
And, on that note, for those who are still reading along, we went to see the oncologist last week.
He said, “Your tumour marker is great. It’s at 8. Have a great Christmas, and see you in three months.”
I’ll take that news any old day.