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Letters From Second Peninsula
Monday was a day of highs and lows, but ultimately it was all good news. I had a phone consultation with my hematologist. He gave me the results of my tests at the end of Cycle 3. They were excellent!
Much as I wanted to celebrate this wonderful news, the reality is that I’ve been feeling lousy a great deal of the time. When I mentioned this to the doctor, he said that this was due to the cumulative effect of chemotherapy and that I had to hang in through two more cycles, and then my weekly treatment would be over. At that point, I transition to monthly injections for the next two years. He did acknowledge that although now there are no signs of the disease, there are also no guarantees that it won’t come back. I know this is the reality for most cancer patients, but it’s not easy to hear this when you are already feeling so lousy.
Once again, it’s the profound fatigue and the near constant styes that are most troublesome. I have about three days out of seven when I have energy and relief from the styes. Now, when the exhaustion hits, it’s even more profound than in past months. It feels like my limbs have been filled with lead. When it hits, it’s all I can do to walk to the bedroom and get into bed. I may have been perfectly fine just minutes before and then this tsunami of fatigue envelops me and I’m useless for the next few hours.
I know, I know, I just have seven more treatments after today, but honestly, I question how I’m going to manage the side effects that grow steadily more intense. Our children and grandchildren arrive in July for a one-week visit and I weep at the thought that I may be in bed, unable to move, for much of that week. A friend in Ontario, who endured equally challenging chemotherapy many years ago, advised me to take things “hour by hour.”
The flip side is that when I do have energy, I am upbeat and productive. The highs are wonderful but they are matched by profound lows and poor Tony is the one who bears witness to those moments.
My garden is thriving and I am including a photo of the first radish I harvested. I think radishes are beautiful and this one is particularly gorgeous. I washed it, photographed it, and ate it. It was almost a religious experience. I feel incredibly lucky to take such joy in my surroundings. While pulling out a radish may strike many as a trivial moment not worth noting, it is for me a moment of intense joy and awe.
I’m grateful that my ability to find joy in these moments is so profound. It’s akin to the pleasure I had as a child picking wild blueberries in Cape Breton. Most of us lose those intense childhood emotions as we grow into adulthood. I feel so fortunate that some of them remain with me after 71 years.
When it comes to friends, I feel like the luckiest woman in the world. I couldn’t endure this without them. It makes me cry (so what else is new) just writing this. I send love and thanks to everyone. After today, there are just seven more weeks. I will get there, I know, but it scares me.
Until next time,