Jennifer Goodman Linn You Fearless

Living Between The End and the Beginning

I truly apologize for taking so long to write. I can't believe practically 6 weeks have gone by. In some ways I feel like so much has happened and changed in the past 6 weeks and in many ways, I feel like things haven't changed at all. The good news is that the CT scan at the end of June came back clean so I am officially "off the juice". In fact, just this past Friday I made it official by having my port removed. For those of you who remember, the port was the device I was forced to get after a year of chemo when all of my veins had hardened and I couldn't receive the chemo via IV anymore. I really resisted having the port but once it was implanted, the chemo, and anxiety around getting chemo, became much easier. Many Doctors like you to keep the port for up to a year after receiving treatment "just in case" the cancer recurs. Dr. Maki and I agreed, however, that it was important for me psychologically to have the port removed since it is a constant reminder of having cancer in the first place. It is always easy to implant one again if I need more chemo down the road. The only challenge to this theory is that my veins really have not yet grown back (they say it could take multiple years). My surgery this past Friday was almost canceled since they had a really hard time finding a vein to give me the anesthesia. I don't really mind getting pricked a few times with a needle but all of the nurses kept on saying to me, "It's really too soon to have your port removed. Why the rush?" I felt like saying to the nurses, "If you had been on chemo for the past 17 months with no stops, you would understand how much I don't want this thing anymore!" One nurse made the point that I had been thinking all along but didn't really want to hear: "Removing your port will never erase what you have been through. For the rest of your life there will always be reminders....from your bi-monthly CT scans to your constant blood tests." Although what she said was true, I really didn't want to think about it at that moment. However, I must say that the expression, " you can run, but you can't hide" has been coming to mind a lot recently. Despite the fact that chemo is done and I am now cancer-free and told to "go forth and hope for the best". I find that physically, I don't feel that much better than when I was undergoing weekly chemo treatments. I thought, rather naively, that once chemo was done, I would immediately bounce back. My hair would immediately start growing again, my strength would come back and I would no longer need to take the constant naps that have defined my weekends over the past year and a half. Well, recovery has been a very slow, often depressing process. Since I had been on chemotherapy for so long, everything is taking much longer than last time. My hair is growing back very thin and I have a lot of bald patches. My strength is a fraction of what it used to be prior to fact, I think I was stronger during chemotherapy than I am now (it must be a mind over matter thing). And the naps are more important than ever. I find that if I don't sleep at least 9 hours a night, I have SUCH a hard time getting up in the morning. If I don't need to set the alarm, I find that I average about 10.5 hours of sleep a day! So much for the quick recovery. So, here I between "the end" of cancer treatments" and "the beginning" of a long, frustrating recovery process. I find that I am often my worst enemy. During chemotherapy I was "good" to myself...I understood that when I was tired I needed to nap and not working out all the time was "OK because my body needed to rest". I am trying really hard to get myself to think that way now. My body is exerting so much energy regenerating that I am pooped most of the time. And being tired can be very depressing at times. A friend of mine equated the recovery process to what happens when you clench your first for a really long time. You often don't realize what you have done to your fist, and how much time it takes for your first to feel 'normal' again, until after you unclench it. So I am now "unclenched" and wondering "how did I keep my fist clenched for so long?" I also think that now that the "race" is over (hopefully forever or at least for a long time), my body is finally able to stop pushing and relax a bit. So, please remind me to go with it rather than fight it...although not fighting it is very hard for me. When I had my port removed last week, I wore my favorite yellow "Life is Good" shirt to the surgery. It has an expression on the back of the shirt that I really love and am trying hard to live by:
Yesterday is History Tomorrow is a Mystery Today is the Day
Cancer treatments are behind me. The Cancer coming back is a 50/50 shot and it is out of my control so why worry about it now? Enjoy each and every day to its fullest...even if 10 hours of that day are spent napping :) I promise to write again soon.