The day I was diagnosed and told it would be six months and 12 treatments of chemo, I told myself “you can do anything for six months.” And I did. I battled and fought and clenched my teeth for six months. I smiled and put on silly wigs. I answered a million questions about how I was feeling. I slept and slept some more. The chemo part is over! But the poison is still running through my veins, my stomach is still queazy, my head still dizzy, so forgive me if the chemo being done doesn’t relate directly to me being done.
I was so frustrated this weekend because I wasn’t getting better. Usually there is at least one day that I feel a little bit normal. There was no normal this time. I spent all day Friday and Saturday on the couch. I didn’t want to eat. I couldn’t sleep. I felt so dirty and couldn’t figure out how to make it to the shower because I was so dizzy.
A pill for my stomach. A pill for a tight chest. A pill for a headache. This is what I have been preparing myself for. For everyone else, Thursday was the end – the last chemo. And I understand the enthusiasm. But, I knew that while the wall numbers may say zero, my body is also at zero.
While we should celebrate our final chemo days, for it is a big deal, we also need to be patient and kind with our bodies. Six months of built-up poison, destroyed cells, and mental blocks doesn’t go away with the final drug.
I have called this period of my life the Punxsutawney phil period – six months of winter. Ironically, we are actually heading into winter in Uruguay. But I think this is even more fitting. That girl at the beginning of diagnosis really thought “get through this six months and go back to real life.” But that isn’t reality, is it. Because long after the chemo and shots and scans is still a period of physical and mental recovery. There is still a fear of what if this happens again. And I am not sure when that will go away. I do know that I have months of muscle recovery from months of inactivity. I have at least a few weeks of feeling tired because I have weeks of cell recovery. I can’t even eat sushi for another month! I may not be able to make it out past 10 for a while. My tastebuds may decide that certain foods are still really gross for a while. Just as my hair won’t grow back over night, recovery doesn’t happen over night.
As the rain falls on this very grey day and my body is hovering at 75%, I am reminded that I am not superwoman. I have made it through chemo. Hopefully, I have made it through cancer. But winter is not over just yet. Jackets, scarfs, hats, and naps are definitely still needed.