Friday, March 16, 2012

Halfway There

Today was a good day. I got downtown early and was able to get through blood tests and express-chemo in record time. I was already downtown, so I stopped in to see some work friends, fill out a little paperwork and was still home before noon.

Today is the unofficial last day of winter here on the east coast. There’s still snow on the ground but the temperature is rising with double digits expected over the weekend. It was still cool and snowy enough when I got home that I was able to take Nakita on a long romp down the street and into the woods for a bit.

This morning was also the last session of round two, making it the official halfway point of my chemotherapy. Next week round three starts in earnest, meaning a couple of longer sessions in the chair but at the end each day I’ll be able to go home, sleep next to my wife and most importantly, eat non-hospital food.

I’m feeling pretty good right now. I’ll spare you the details about the blood clots in my nose and I have a few achy bones and joints from the home injections to boost my white-cell production. I’m still experiencing chemo neuropathy: muffled hearing, stiff hands and pain in my feet, but I’m able to walk well enough to take Nakita out, I can do stuff around the house and the pain is manageable with meds.

There’ll be more side effects to come, but at this halfway point I have come to realize just how lucky I’ve been through this process. I’m otherwise feeling fairly healthy, my diagnosis hasn’t changed (official update to come on Tuesday) and my long term outlook remains positive. If everything goes to plan, I’ll be done chemo in six weeks then I’m looking at the surgery, which we’ll deal with when it comes.

I have a huge support network I love more than anything and that I owe more than I can ever hope to pay back. Support ranges from my wife, our families, Nakita (never underestimate the help of a good dog), the nurses and doctors (I’ve been EXTREMELY lucky), friends who came to visit my in hospital, took me to movies, cooked me dinner, and made me hats. Then there’s everyone who’s sent me a card, email or posted an encouraging comment. Believe me, every little gesture is appreciated.

When I think of people I’ve meet that aren’t as lucky, I realize how good I’ve got it. There’s Greg Hebert and our friend who watched her boyfriend waste away from throat cancer. The man I met who casually mentioned he just started his sixth year of treatment or the elderly couple dealing with liver cancer. The joking teen in the hospital kitchen with testicular cancer who was clearly terrified and certainly not last nor least, the leukemia patient who was about to be released after six months in the oncology ward, but didn’t want to go home because the last time he’d gone back to Cape Breton an infection set in and nearly killed him.

I can’t buy into the premise that people who are suffering with, or have survived serious illness are suppose to come out of it better people with some sort of insight the rest of the world doesn’t have. I think they are regular people just trying to get by under incredible circumstances. But no matter what kind of person they are, they will find a depth of both courage and fear they have never experience before. And I also know that at some point, it is coming for everyone.

So what whatever your journey is through life, I wish you all the love and support that that I have experienced these past months, and it breaks my heart to know that not everyone will get it.

“May the long time sun shine upon you, all love surround you, and the pure light within you guide your way on your way home.”

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