I'm ten weeks into chemo. With a week off behind me, assuming there are no other mishaps, I have ten weeks to go.
This week off has been strangely depressing. Not because I feel terrible. I don't. And not because I feel great. I don't. But because I feel flat. I think I've been motivated all along by fear and adrenaline (a.k.a. steroids) and now I've begun to crash.
When I heard last week's chemo appointment was to be canceled, I wept. I hated the thought of my treatment derailed or delayed. I want it over with so badly. Then I rallied, deciding that this will be the week that I reclaim some strength, grab a big gulp of life before submerging once again into the grind.
It didn't exactly happen that way. I'd aim to meet friends at the gym in the early morning. Instead I slept late. I puttered in my office. I dressed for a run but instead only walked. I'd intend a modest 2000 yards in the pool and head for the showers 500 yards short. I'm sure all of this was good for me, but today, chemo-eve again, I feel as though I've lost my rhythm, my present-moment focus. Those ten weeks behind me seem to have passed so quickly, a wasted swath of my life. The ten weeks ahead of me seem to stretch out to the horizon of time.
Worst of all, I got a little taste of recovery and what a long road it will be. It's like eating one chip. Better not to have any than to be denied the whole bag.
I get overwhelmed when I remember that chemo isn't the end of it. There's five weeks of daily radiation following that, and then Tamoxifen, a hormone-altering pill I'll have to acclimate to also. When I take into consideration the journey so far, beginning with my first biopsy, it will be a full year before I can begin to put this cancer-focus behind me.
On the bright side, with taste-altering and mucus membrane-wrecking Adriamycin and Cytoxan behind me, I'm gradually reclaiming the landscape of food that I once enjoyed and worried I'd never be able to stomach again.
Yesterday's salad: Chopped green apple, red pepper, carrot, celery, dandelion greens, shredded beets, and kidney beans. The dressing is tahini, lemon, turmeric, and basil. So good.
For instance: salad. It was bland, the texture so rough it seemed to scrape my tender mouth and throat. But lately, I'm back to salads every day, and enjoying them.
And tea. I know this isn't common, but for me, the mere thought of the stuff turned my stomach. Perhaps because I brought some to my first chemo appointment? I still can't even look at that thermos without feeling queasy. But I have a cabinet full of every possible green, fruit, and herbal tea known to man, which I'm finally enjoying again. Spearmint and honey last night, cranberry this morning, Rooibos this afternoon. And tomorrow? Ah, who knows. The world, or at least that cabinet, is mine.