Saturday, October 4, 2008

The End is Near

In one sense, it seemed that October 2nd, 2008 would never arrive. Now that it has come and gone, it has done so in a hurry. This was my final chemotherapy session and I am rejoicing. I have to have a follow-up on November 13th to make sure the Taxol/Carboplatin team has done it's trick and eradicated all the nasty cells. I am thinking positive and praying that the outcome is going to be positive but for some silly reason, I have a very irritating thought that keeps tickling me and saying "you're not in the clear yet."

I asked Angela, my writer friend who struggled with cancer, too, if she thought I was being neurotic by having this niggling thought in the back of my head. She assured me that she has not met one person who is not nervous about getting follow-up results. Even she, after ten years, still gets anxious awaiting test results. So that made me feel a little better.

Angela (Angelina Fast Vlaar) has written an amazing and encouraging book called The Valley of Cancer - a Journey of Comfort and Hope. Angela sent me the latest edition of her book a while ago to help me find strength and focus. And help, it did. The book is a beautiful compilation of private thoughts and emotions which are offered in poetic and journal form. I cried many times when reading some of the entries. At other times I laughed and knew that there was a unique aspect to this encouraging book. If you get a chance to read it, don't hesitate. And if you know anyone with cancer, then I suggest you buy a copy and pass it on. It is such an encouragement as Angela shares her journey in an intimate and spiritual way. Here's her website if you want to have a look:

I am feeling a little under the weather right now, but this is to be expected. It usually takes me a week to get over the treatment. I barely have the energy to move, and am feeling very fatigued at the moment. I have basically parked myself in Gilles' comfy chair and stayed there. The most I have accomplished today is flipping on the trusty laptop and sorting through a pile of papers. It's such a weird feeling after my chemo. Before all this cancer nonsense, I would jump out of bed, put on my superhero cape in the morning ready to face the world. I am lucky now if I can expend the energy to get dressed. Yesterday and today, my attire has been my nightie. We'll see how motivated I am tomorrow (sigh!)

But I have to get cracking by the end of next week. Did I tell you Gilles is taking me to Florida to celebrate? I am so excited. It's been a very long time since we have been on a holiday. I have a girlfriend in the sunny state who has been waiting a long time for us to come visit. I can hardly wait to see Fran and her hubby, Rick. And she tells me the temperature is 85 degrees. I can handle that. :) So Franny in Florida is my motivation to get cracking and snap out of this chemo rut. I have been blessed in so many ways. God has given me lots of positive things to focus on during this not so pleasant 'cancerous' summer.When I left the clinic yesterday, it was bittersweet. First I was leaving my terrific angels who faithfully administered my treatment and loved and encouraged me in a professional manner. I will miss Maureen and Kay, the first nurses to attend to me and to treat me with tender and compassionate care. I will definitely miss Patrick's lifting laughter and Elly's smile. I will miss Charlene's bedside manner and Aly's kindness. I will always remember Lilliana who was the first sweet nurse to introduce me to the chemo. I will miss Judy's cheerful attitude and Alison's friendly efficiency. I will miss all the others, too. I can't remember all the names but I remember faces. Thanks God for equipping them all with such gifts. Dr. Lanvin is a sweet and gentle doctor, my oncologist who cares deeply for his patients. He sure made me feel secure in my journey. And when Dr. Lanvin was away, Dr. Sugimoto stepped in with his superb bedside manner and an amazing ability to calm fears and reassure the downcast. I will see a few of these faces, I am sure when I have my follow-up and for that I will be glad.

One person I will miss the most, is a special friend I met on my first chemo visit. Cindy. Cindy is a beautiful soul who has breast cancer. I just looked back in my journal and I chuckled at part of my entry: "I really want to talk to Cindy. I hope we meet again." There was just something about her that told me she was someone I would like to get to know.

God had a plan. Cindy and I had the same schedule for chemo. We ended up sharing blogs and e-mail addresses. We laughed and made the most of our IV moments together. I am praying so much for her. Cindy has three beautiful little girls, a busy pastor hubby and a love for God that is obvious and real. She has a long way to go yet and is anticipating surgery soon. I am really going to miss Cindy.

This whole experience has been life changing. Cancer. Who'd have thought it? In some bizarre sort of way, I feel that I have been privileged; that I have been able to see life from a different angle; I have sensed the spirit of God in a way that was oblivious to me in the past. I think I am now able to understand the emotions of someone going through the valley and if I can support even one person on their journey then this will have been all worth it. I remember when I first started on my own journey, my friend Dale had given me a book that talked about counting it all joy. The biblical reference for that directive was found in James. At first, I had troubles counting cancer all joy...but now when I sit back and realize the good that has, and continues to come out of it, well I am starting to see the joy. I will fight this dreaded disease. I will talk to anyone who needs to hear my story but I will also see the joy and the good. Things happen for a reason.


Kia Taylor said...

Beautiful entry, well said. You've captured what so many of us feel when we approach our last chemo. It's bittersweet, it's joy and it's fear of the unknown. I will continue to pray for you and your healing...


Ryan and Lori said...

WOW! Again, beautiful! I think many nurses should be called angels. We had the same experience at the hospital when we had Zachary and Abigail. I will pray for this waiting time between now and your follow up. Have a blast in Florida. I love that place too!