Thursday, March 10, 2016

I'm done, but it's not over

The Awareness Bear, my Radiation Complete
trophy, and my cancer memory jar. It has the
shredded chemo countdown loops and Dove
chocolate wrappers and gratitude lanterns
from radiation.
On Monday, I had my last cancer treatment. Huzzah! It is such a relief to be done. I cried, of course, and the techs hugged me and said they never want to see me again. Ha! The feeling is mutual. Sweet Michael met me in the waiting room with flowers, a pink "Awareness Bear" and a trophy he had made for me. Is it any wonder I love that man? I was an emotional mess all day, but they were happy tears.

So what now? Even though I'm done with treatment and in remission, it's really not over. I'll have follow-up visits with all my doctors for months for months if not years, next week I'll see if the lady at the Hanger Clinic managed to order the right prosthetic (who wants to take my bet that she didn't?), and I'll have my annual mammogram in June.

Then there will always be that niggling doubt. What's that weird pain? Is the cancer back? What does my mammogram say? Do I have cancer again? This is an experience that will never leave me. I refuse to live my life in fear, but it's hard to keep those doubts from trickling in from time to time. It doesn't help that I keep hearing about people who beat cancer, only to have a recurrence or new cancer a few years later that then metastasizes and they die. It's hard not to be scared of that. Today I heard about a lady who lost her fight with cancer at the age of 41. It's hard not to think, "That could have been me." So, if you have a survivor story where the cancer never came back, I sure could stand to hear some of those.

My hair, 19 weeks post final chemo. It's getting
almost shaggy!
And I'm not done healing. I'm still quite red, although it's turning to tan now. The patch under my arm keeps getting bigger as more dead skin falls off (sorry for the ick factor), but thankfully since it's not getting irradiated anymore, there is new skin underneath so it's not so painful. It gets a tiny bit better each day. I'm surprised that the itching isn't too bad, although I do have some. It's still uncomfortable to use my arm, but better. Hence, I haven't posted here until today.

It will take a long, long time to get my body back in shape. I walked a mile on Tuesday and again today, and it was a lot of work. But I have lots of motivation to get moving!

Of course, I carried some good things away from the experience. I have a whole new perspective on life and what really matters. I made some great memories as we partied our way through treatment and did all our little rituals. My friends and acquaintances showed me how awesome they are. And I learned that maybe I'm stronger than I thought. While I wouldn't wish this disease on anyone, it's good to have something positive to look back on. I certainly hope others can benefit from my experience and perspective as well.

I'll still have a few more posts to make. I never shared my "what I learned from chemo," and I'll do the same for radiation. I'm sure I'll have other things to share as well. So, we're not quite done here yet!


  1. Life is never done. You are a champion and continue to set an example for so many. There is nothing like looking death in the face and walking away from the encounter to make liofe seem a little more special.

  2. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. It's been so inspiring and helpful to other women who might be going through the same thing.

  3. Big hugs. Thank you for taking the time and persevering in chronicling this journey. Cathy is right; your courage and humor will inspire others.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.