An important milestone occurred last month for Misti. She stopped treatment for her Melanoma. If you haven’t read the first part of her story, read Misti With Cancer.
The Final Countdown
After counting down to September 14, 2012 for an entire year, it finally arrived. After thinking I was never going to make it through that god-awful chemo, it finally arrived. After repeating “I can’t do this any longer” a million times, it finally arrived. And it was- anticlimactic.
It’s only been a few days since September 14 and I just feel numb. Blah! Where are the fireworks? Why don’t I feel *better*? Why am I not bursting with joy? Where’s the grand finale?
I guess I built it up to be more than it was. There doesn’t always have to be a huge ending to every chapter. Some people live their whole lives not having any grand finales. But I prefer it. I never do anything halfway. If I’m gonna do it I’m going big. So I set myself up to be let down. I keep waiting for the emotional equivalent version of fireworks, and perhaps it will come.
Perhaps it will come when I can run up a flight of stairs without getting winded? Perhaps it will come when I wake up on a Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday (my worst days on chemo) and realize I don’t feel like shit? Perhaps it will come NEXT September 14- or, perhaps, it may never come.
After you’ve done something, even something unpleasant, for so long, it becomes habit. I had a routine for the lat year and then one day I went to the doctor and he said “ok, you’re all done!” That’s it? Just like that my habits and routines of the last year were changing. I was happy, of course, but just couldn’t stop thinking, now what?
Yes, now what? I take care of the kids. I clean the house. I run errands. I cook. I ride my scooter. I pick up dog crap in the yard. In-other-words, I live.
Hopefully, if nothing else, I have a better appreciation for life and am happy to just be here doing those menial things. Hopefully I will respect life just a little more. Hopefully I will come out of this crisis with a renewed, fresh attitude.
I’m in control now. I have no excuses left. While I’ll admit, I enjoyed being taken care of for the last year, it’s time for me to become independent again. It’s time to be the care-giver. It was, without a doubt, the worst year of my life. And now that it’s over I grieve for the life I knew, but I have a fresh appreciation for my life now.
It’s not that I’m a special hero or a fighter, that’s implying that people who don’t win against this wretched disease somehow gave up. I think doctors are doing what the can with the treatments available. And while the treatment (for me, at least) was worse than the disease, I’m am in no way heroic. It’s no different than a diabetic taking shots of insulin. We just do what we need to do to make it through our current situations.
I would like to add that I have had some amazing people in my life throughout this ordeal. At the risk of forgetting people, I’d rather not name manes. But there are a few names I must mention. My mom! Without my mom things would have been so much harder. Not having my dad here to carry me through this was hard on me and my mom, but she held it together and did everything she could to help me and my family through everything.
Paul, of course Paul. The man of strength and courage. The most incredible man I ever knew. When I would freak out he was there with a solution. He dealt with the kids and went to work and cooked and cleaned and took care of everything in the house. This all started just a short time after having lost his father so I’m sure it was extra rough on him. But he never let me know it. I’m so lucky to have him in my life.
My kids. It was hard on them. Sidona, 13 and an introvert but she helped the best way she knew how. She would do things when I asked and sometimes she would just lay in my bed with me to keep me company. Emmett, who is NOT an introvert was very helpful. He’d make sure my water bottle was always full and get my stuff ready for my shots and make sure I was comfortable. Together they were a great team. I love them so much.
My friends (old and new). From trips to chemo to dinner to companionship to tasty treats to encouragement and on and on. Sure, I capitalized on my cancer often “I can’t take the garbage out because I have cancer” and while mostly I was joking (unless I really couldn’t take the garbage out) I needed to take control of that word. It was up to me to own it. To not let it bring tears to my eyes every time I said it.
Take back the power!
Cancer! I must’ve said that word a million times over the last year. Cancer cancer cancer. It’s not such a terrible word when you say it over and over. You have to take the power away from it. Sure, it still has the potential to kill, but so does a knife or a gun and I’m not afraid to say those words.
Am I emerging a completely different person? Probably not. A few renewed appreciations and enjoying life a little more (thanks in part to my lovely scooter) but I don’t think I’ve had a life changing experience. I never came back from that white light or anything. Things got rough throughout the year, very rough. But I never felt like it was the end. Like everyone, there are bumps in the road. It’s called life. Sure, I know all the right things to say but I just don’t feel them. I’m going to do my best to just live in the moment and be happy for right now!