passing a mile marker

i don’t like running. i’m not into races. the one 5k i did with mike and our friend derek a few years ago was kind of painful, especially to watch the people who warmed up with a 5k before the actual 5k pass me in their tiny shorts. show offs. 

despite all that, i have a great sense of a mile marker with my last chemo tomorrow (i was able to get the third AC even with a sinus infection, and i think the chemo helped clear that crap up. pleasant surprise!). it’s like i’m rounding the bend. i woke up with butterflies in my stomach about how excited i am to be done with chemo, and with the friday/saturday fluids and follow-up meds too. just too many hours over the past 5 months sitting in that infusion chair…approximately 126 hours by my count. 

i’m so amped to feel more alive, both literally and literally. while the anthracycline stays in my body for the next month, i’ll start to feel better a teeny bit every day. i’ll grow red blood cells and get some energy because of it, be able to eat and poop (btw, never take those 2 things for granted), give up my mouth sore rinse, enjoy lemons in my water, more quickly heal paper cuts, and be able to give up the guessing game each morning–what new side effect will i feel today? will my fingernail fall off? will my gut be tied in knots? the rest of my treatment plan is no picnic, but the uncertainty of chemo can be crippling. this top ten list of ways to get a taste of chemo brings some dark cancery humor to the whole mess. 

all the chemo guidebooks say to avoid your favorite food and clothes during treatment because you’ll start to associate those beloved things with chemo. i didn’t believe it would happen because of a mind over matter arrogance. but recently, even seeing my backpack, water bottle, and snackbag that we always take to infusions brings on a wave of nausea and anxiety. and i’ve buried a few sets of clothes deep in my closet that have been well-worn to infusions too. spring cleaning is coming early to the campbell household. 

i think whiz is ready too (thanks for the request, and pep talk, joanne!), just given his annoyingly adolescent behavior as of late. peeing on the carpet, eating my nexium acid reflux pill off the dining table, and otherwise terrorizing inanimate objects like pens and kleenax. he’s tired of my chemo moping. 

thanks for helping me get through these past months. i get a surprise (fill in the blank) from someone each day, and it’s so humbling to be surrounded by wonderful people who do and say wonderful things. at some point, i’ll synthesize the things that have most resonated on my toughest days, because some of you have asked what’s been the most helpful. at another point, if i can muster up enough honesty (because let’s face it, i’m honest here but only share about 75% of what i could), i’d also like to reflect on how cancer is crystallizing my view on relationships. 

for now, i’m still working on being nice to myself. easier said than done. i have a lot of negative thoughts about what i’m doing or not doing, what i did or did not do. that’s a longer work in progress. maybe that type of chronic background noise of negative thoughts and the associated stress hormones provided a happy petri dish for cancer to begin with. no one knows. but, more later on how to come up with a survivorship plan to deal with those things. 

but first, getting through tomorrow and the next week of side effects and then having a little dance party to celebrate passing this mile marker…!


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