My birthday was bittersweet.
It was my first (and hopefully only) birthday as a cancer patient. I was looking forward to forty. I viewed it as a chance to kick off another phase of my life. After all, I was healthier than I’d ever been. I was ready to train for a marathon or take up kickboxing. I was scared of turning forty last year, but as the new year approached, I started to embrace it. I’d become philosophical.
The day before my birthday, I read a statistic. A third of us who are diagnosed with breast cancer will die from it. That made me sad. And scared. Days later, that thought wakes me up at night. I spent so much time in July, going insane, obsessing about everything but me, that I sort of forgot how uncertain the future is. Cancer doesn’t spare moms; it doesn’t spare the young.
Things are getting better, though. I have much more energy than I did a month ago. I think I’m almost ready to tackle my old walking route. Even better, I’m reading again. I read a whole book in four days and I finished another book that had fallen by the wayside. I was so convinced that I was suffering from chemo-induced mental fogginess, but now I’m not sure. Maybe I got off easy. I still search for words now and then, more often than I’d like, for sure. I feel sharp again. I’m almost ready for a sudoku book.
I’d like to think the big island trip helped me. Ryan and I met there, so it’s special to our family, but I always believed the island was full of ancient healing power. I got on the plane right after chemo and didn’t anticipate that we’d do much on Friday, but we drove across the island and made quite a few stops and walked quite a bit. We visited the city of refuge, which I hadn’t seen for almost twenty years, and the painted church, which I had never visited. The energy on the big island has always been energizing for me. I dream of the day we can live there.
I have chemo down to a science. There are only four treatments left, but just in time, I’ve made a playlist for maximum relaxation and I listen to it as I succumb to the haze from the benadryl I get to ward off any allergic reactions to the Taxol. I manage to sleep through almost the whole thing.
The staff at Kaiser has been so wonderful. I’ve made some friends. I’m going to miss them.