Number 8 out the gate!
That's right, we're done and done with chemo. Hopefully for the rest of my life. No more infusions to knock my cells. No more carpet-bombing of my body, as one friend says. I can begin to heal and know that everything I do will work to strengthen and not just slow down the debilitation. I'm more excited than I expected to be. Especially given that I'll be back in the chemo suite every three weeks for the next year for a different kind of 'infusion.' And that in two weeks time I'll be effectively moving myself to Vancouver for six weeks of radiation that also brings about it's own fatigue and side effects.
All that aside, I feel like I've come through something significant and can now look ahead. Look forward to things like hair (albeit just on my head - legs, underarms and other such nether regions may remain downy if that is at all possible, please and thank you). I look forward to not worrying about catching a cold when I go to the grocery store. And not having to wonder if that mozzie bite I just scratched will get infected. And, though I hear it takes a while to shake, I'm looking forward to losing this chemo brain. To not be always forgetting things and having this slippery feeling that there is a thought just out of my reach.
We're just back from two weeks camping and motor-boating around two lakes near here. It was five of us (cousin Katie has been visiting from Chile) crammed into our 16 foot aluminium boat. It was sunshine and still waters and wind and giant waves. It was no technology or chores that sing the siren song of distraction from each other. It was not very much but it made my heart very full.
Squeezing all the bodies and their associated accoutrements into our wee vessel was a challenge for even Mountain Dad's master packing skills. He was preoccupied in the days leading up to departure as he assessed all the items to be packed; dehydrating anything that lay on the counter for more than a day and MacGyvering objects from their single purpose into being able to serve two. For example, the floor boards of the boat now lift out and with the addition of four metal legs, turn into cook benches for our camp. Our picnic blanket had grommets added to each corner so that we could peg it out in a wind or tie it to a tree for use as a tarp in the rain. Our Mountain Dad's mind was a-whirl while packing. And even so, just because I off-handedly mentioned that it would help me sleep better, he managed to jam in my big, downy feather pillow. All he let slip was a quiet,
"That pillowcase?" when he saw me stuffing it into my thickest fleece pillowcase. My reasoning is that the fleece one wouldn't show the dirt as much. Mountain Dad demurred to my practical argument.
During the trip I found myself debating rights of ownership of said pillow with my seven year old. Adelaide insisted that she should sleep with it, while I tritely pointed out that ever since she was a newborn, she really hasn't needed a scrap of pillow on which to lay her head. I've put her to bed most every night of her life, I fired at her, she sleeps supremely well nestled into her sleeping bag! I'm not sure why there was even an argument to be had, but she drew me in and I debated like a lawyer in a landmark case.
"You never care about pillows!" I cried, "Not even at home do you really care abut what your head lays on!" I delivered my closing argument with passion while she regarded me calmly. With a sorrowful patience she summarised,
"Oh Mum, remember you have chemo brain? I have always cared about pillows. You're just not remembering."
She didn't get the pillow.
That last photo is summer solstice. A hike up a small cliff while the kids slept and a toast to the turning of the planet. Though the summer solstice often makes me sad as we say goodbye to our long daylight hours, I love this one for the moment. To be out in the wilderness, the only people on the entire lake. To be with my family and arguing with them and loving them through all the day-to-day muckiness and palarva of life. To just be there at all. It felt pretty wonderful.
And the only thing that brought us back to civilized Whitehorse (besides a lack of toilet paper; Mountain Dad scrimped a little tightly on that one) was my final chemo. And on the night of my that chemo, I mountain biked with Katie and then packed for the 20km hike we did the next day. I'm not a fighter but I need to do these things to feel strong and in control. And it fills my soul as much as my body.
Now, if I can just grow some hair. I look forward to looking in the mirror and feeling the same sense of happy contentment that I get from working my body in the outdoors. Though Mountain Dad tells me that my nude noggin looks beautiful, I don't love it. In fact, I've been trying to find a picture to share with you all but it's hard to get one that doesn't make me look like my Dad or one that I'm o'kay with. The following is the best I can find. And it's probably the only one you'll get.