I meant to write something about this on Wednesday, but wanted to give myself a little more time to process things. Then I tried again on Sunday for reasons that will become apparent, but Hurricane Sandy had other ideas. So now that I'm finally in front of a computer with working internet access, let me give this another shot.
On Wednesday, October 24th I had my routine pre-chemo check-in with Dr. C. As I mentioned last time, this marks one full year taking cycles of chemotherapy, a significant milestone as "one year" was the minimum recommended dosage. I hadn't brought it up lately out of fear that Dr. C. would have changed his mind, or forgotten about it entirely, or otherwise responded with anything but a, "sure, go ahead." When I saw him on the 24th, I figured there was no point in dancing around the matter and asked him directly if I could stop. He flipped through my file - now quite sizable - and casually said, "sure."
There was a little more to the discussion than that, granted, but that's how it started and proceeded along those lines, with Dr. C. giving me reasons why it would be a good idea, or at the very least, not a bad one.
So that night, I took the first dose in my last round of chemo. At least, my last round for now. There's no way to know what the future holds and I'm sure this is not the last I've seen of my cancer, but for the time being I am no longer a cancer patient, but a cancer survivor. Dr. C. wants to see me in 3 months and I'll still have my regular, bi-monthly MRIs, but no more chemo for the foreseeable future. I'm free. That was the thought going through my head on Sunday, as I prepared to take my final dose and listened to the winds of Hurricane Sandy howling outside, drawing forth all sorts of new and interesting sounds from my poor little home. I briefly entertained the thought of a tree falling through the roof, killing me on the spot. It would figure, you know?
I actually got off pretty well from the storm. I lost internet access, but my electricity and water supply held. Or at least I think it did; on the radio this morning I heard some warnings about sewer treatment plants backing up and contaminating the water supply, but the report helpfully excluded any mention on which towns were affected. I did wake up feeling a little nauseous this morning but that's hardly unusual.
We lost power at work but they'd purchased a shiny new generator after the last storm and were quite eager to try it out. My normal workstation is without power, so here I sit on a laptop. Perhaps not doing exactly what my employers intended, but something I need to do nonetheless.
On Wednesday night, near to midnight, I sat on my couch and held a letter in my hand. Three pages long and hand-written, from a dear friend from my childhood. One whom had helped to shape who I am today, but with whom I'd lost touch over a decade ago. This letter had sat, unopened and sealed, on my coffee table for over a year at that point. Every night I had looked at it, and refrained from opening it. I don't know why. Maybe the time and distance had made us strangers, or maybe I feared what emotions the letter might evoke. Maybe I felt it was something I lacked the strength to deal with, or was unwilling to face even the possibility of drawing upon emotions long buried. But as one chapter in my life drew to a close, I felt the letter an appropriate way to open the next. I wrote back to my old friend, and haven't heard from him yet. Seeing as his letter went unanswered for a year, I feel he's entitled to a little more time before I conclude he's written me off.
I'd wanted to post something about Tig Notaro, but have enough respect for the sanctity of a work computer not to go digging for a link. Suffice it to say you can find a clip of the set I am about to reference at Louis C.K.'s website, or just by Googling for her name. Short version, she's a comedian who was diagnosed with cancer, and the very next day did a routine about it. A brutally honest, open routine, in which you can hear her uncertainty, and also her desire to come to terms with her new reality. It's a beautiful set and I encourage everyone to go check it out. I'll do another post about it in a day or two, with a link.
Thank you, everyone, for taking this journey with me. I'll continue to post, maybe even more frequently as the chemo flushes from my system and my head clears. My story isn't over yet.