I blinked and fall gave way to winter. I have so much and so little to share. I finally finished my 6th and final round of chemotherapy at the end of September. This impossible summer took so long and yet flew by. I am amazed by the resilience of my body and my mind. I do not remember much about my final round of chemotherapy. It looked very similar to the few rounds before. I do remember fainting shortly after it finished, I remember the drained exhausted feeling of having very few red blood cells and the bruises that came with too few platelets but for the most part, I remember being grateful that I was back in Richmond finally moving forward with my life.
I barely had time to process finishing treatment before I had to contemplate starting it all over again. Without so much as a week between the poison leaving my body, my scans showed some suspicious lighting on the perimeter of my tumor bed. The peace I was anticipating would have to wait. Instinctively my head began pulsating and the tears began to fall. I didn’t even have any hair that could stand up before the fear set in. We looked at the scans with my doctor and he did his best to reassure me that he did not think my cancer was back. My doctor doesn’t guess lightly so his opinion held a lot of weight. My dad and I went home that night worried but with hope. The tumor board at Hopkins agreed with my doctor. They thought my scan warranted closer follow up but their suspicion of a reoccurrence was low. A month and a second scan later and I was in the same predicament. There is some suspicious lighting in the scan but it remained largely unchanged. My doctor told me that given the biology of my tumor if it were back, it would have grown. After all, my tumor doubled in size last January after only four weeks.
It occurred to me on my way home from my second scan that this is the battle I will be faced with. Maybe for the next decade if I am lucky. The ambivalence, the constant fear, the finding hope, the carrying on, the living in between the scans. Finding ways to make space and live my life through the uncertainty of the future.
(My friends and family at Race for the Cure Sarcoma)
That’s what life looks like lately. I love being back in my job. I feel grateful to be allowed into the vulnerable spaces of my client’s lives and find joy in spending my days with supportive and loving coworkers. I love having a purpose and a routine. I’m enjoying seeing my Richmond crew on some weekends and being home with my family on other weekends. The pace of life feels fast right now but I’m trying to take it all in and savor it.
(My birthday present trip to Charlottesville, VA)
My hair is growing back, my fitness is returning, and most days I feel calm and grateful. I’m soaking up the holiday season and I am grateful I don’t have another scan until early January. I’m trying to remember that I can spend my time worrying or fearing the unknown or I can use the uncertainty to be more present and more grateful for each day.