I had my last radiation treatment three weeks ago. This week is the first week since my diagnosis that I don’t have an appointment. That’s eleven months. Eleven months of weekly doctor appointments or treatments. Poking and prodding, examinations, surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation, physical therapy. I’ve been “doing” cancer for almost a year.
A year of my life journeying through cancer. All treatments are done. I’m now going into maintenance mode. I’ll be seeing my doctors periodically through the year for checkups.
Now what? What do I do now? I’ve been doing cancer for so long, I’m not sure what to do with myself. I don’t have to plan my day or my week around an appointment. I don’t have to drive to Beaumont any more. I’m done with hospitals, I’m done with being examined. I don’t have to put on a hospital gown. Better yet, I don’t have to take off my hospital gown in front of people. Score! I’m done with all of that! I feel like I just climbed Mt. Everest. And while I’m elated to be done with treatment, I’m feeling a little lost.
I was talking to my husband about it and he said something that resonated with me. He said you’ve been in fight mode for almost a year. He was right. I got a seat on the Big “C” roller coaster and it’s been a wild ride ever since. The peaks and valleys, twists and turns kept me on my toes. I was in survival mode. High alert.
So now I’ve survived and as Bob and I joke to each other on particularly difficult days – “We live to fight another day”. I’m alive. The storm has passed. There are still days where I feel a little shell shocked and say “Did that just happen!?” I’m beginning to realize I no longer need to be in “high alert” mode. I can breathe a little easier. I remind myself to stay present.
I need to realize I am creating a new normal. A life that doesn’t have to revolve around cancer. A life that gets to create new memories, experience new adventures and challenges and just “be”. Cancer will always be a part of who I am, but it will no longer be front and center in my life. It will just be another experience in my life. I need to take some time to decompress, allow myself to relax and build up my strength. I need to let myself heal. I think I’m putting too much pressure on myself. At times, I feel I’ve been in a cocoon for a year and I’ve got to hurry up and make up for lost time. That I need to be doing something. And what I’ve just realized is I don’t need to do a thing. I need to just go with the flow. Just be. When the time is right, I’ll know my next step should be, so for now, I’ll just “be” and take in the gratitude of another day.