As I sit here and write on my off week of this cycle's round 2 of chemotherapy, the brain fog is again lifting where I am starting to think like myself again for a couple days before they hit me again. The chemo I am doing now are the last steps in this year long "battle" of kicking cancer's ass. To me the feelings that I anticipated having joy, elation, a huge feeling of accomplishment and relief are not anything close to the emotions brewing around inside me. The word battle is used so often in referring to the struggles cancer brings and what it takes to get through it. When I think of the word battle, I think of an intense exertion of energy in a somewhat chaotic fight where the victor is left standing. Last June, that's what I thought I would be doing. I was ready for battle, my army was set, a plan was made, my game face was on and I was going to kick some ass!! Eleven months later and that is the furthest thing from the truth, if I had to hold that energy level this entire time I would have been down for the count for sure. In my experience it has almost been a combination of a well planned out stealth mission with a marathoner's mind set. I have had to pace myself every step of the way, not getting too far ahead of myself and being very mindful after getting through each obstacle there were still many more ahead. Like climbing a mountain, getting to the top and instead of the beautiful view there is another mountain. Yet where I am now is the last mountain and over the next couple weeks I will slowly be making my way to the top to see the beautiful view. This is where the confusing mix of emotions are setting in because as my marathon of strategic planning is coming to an end and I am realizing that the finish line is like the very top of the highest mountain, there is the very real fact that after my moment of celebration I have to figure out how the hell to get back down. After my last treatment I will have my weeks of healing and then.....what???? I shut down my entire life for a year now - how do I put that back together? Nothing is where I left if, life happens and things have moved on, as they very well should, without me. I am starting over in so many was and I have no clue where to begin.
I have given up so much control and have really relied on so many others to get me through the months of challenges. I have gotten up every morning with the goal of just getting through the day. With a stage 4 diagnosis my goal was just simply to be here and get through the treatment. Live - just live. Even though the treatment and plan are still in action, the tone is very different, the flurry of activity at my doctor appointments have calmed down. I am not meeting with other surgeons and trying to wrap my mind around what they have come up with to deal with what is going on inside me. What is going on inside me? I look in the mirror and see the scars left on my body, I lay in bed at night with my thoughts and can feel the scars there too. I am now approaching the time where I will take the different and new me and try and figure out what my life is now. I am the same in many way but so different in many more, what is important to me, how I look at life, and the path I thought my life was going in are no where close to what I thought a year ago.
Making a plan for the next steps of healing and moving forward in reality is not how I want it to be. Ideally it would be great to set my date to start working again, start the projects that have been put on hold and assume that I will be able to do all of the things I did before this journey started. The reality is I have no clue what my energy will be like and when I will be ready to pull off a full work day, how physically my surgeries have impacted me in my "normal" life and how not over extending myself too quickly. Will it be weeks, months, a year? All I can do, like all of my treatment, is to take one step at a time. Going down a mountain does not seem as daunting as the climb up but I also don't want to assume it is easy and slip, tumble down and hit the ground. With all I have learned from what I was given, the priorities I realized I never focused on, I want to take each step mindfully and respecting myself as I go.
In saying all this, I also am worried, knowing me, I have a feeling that the shit might hit the fan. I have always been the type of person that usually keeps it together, I think rationally, make educated decisions and am pretty calm. I am also the type of person, that, every once in awhile, that all goes down the tubes. Tamara gets a phone call or text to grab the bottle of Bailey's and get to my house while I have a bit of a mental break down, Becca gets a phone call as I am driving home with me in tears on how I can't handle some random thing I wasn't expecting, or we end up in Megan's bar in her basement and I think drinking rye straight up on the rocks is a good idea on a Wednesday because the week just sucked! Usually after these errors in judgement I shake off the headache they usually cause and back to rational ways. These events are an every couple of months thing, after non stop work days, added stress from an event I am running, or when the kids are just driving me crazy or going through a "faze", when I feel overwhelmed and just need a bit of a break. I can't imagine what my bad decision self will do once my energy comes back from this situation - I feel it stirring inside me, that uneasy, frustrated, somethings gotta give feeling. I feel like the clarity I will have might overwhelm me, with the realization of what I actually just did this last year, how close I could have been to not be here. I don't think I have actually wrapped my mind around that at all.
I am happy that all of this is coming up now and that I am working through it before my treatment has ended. I am usually pretty down and out the week after I get chemo and maybe I can use some of that time to reflect and organize my thoughts to the fact that this marathon might not be over as soon as I think it will be.