Thursday, July 16, 2009

Getting back to "normal"

Going into my adjuvant therapy treatments - as with most everything else about this disease – it was the unknown that scared me the most. The blessing - as with most everything else about this disease – was that it played out like a best-case scenario. The last six months of treatments, whether chemo or radiation, was very tolerable for me. God and his church have been with me every step of the way. Thank you again for all of your prayers.

There was some congratulations and celebrating on and after July 2nd when I had my last dose of chemo. It is a certainly a cause for joy and celebration in terms of a milestone. Still, I've been struggling with what it means to be done with my adjuvant therapy. On its most basic level it means that "they" will not be putting poison into my body to make me better again anytime soon. I have been affected far more by the drug side effects than the disease itself thus far. I assume that I'll start feeling better once those side effects recede into the past. It is the absence of those negative effects that I look forward to. (Whether there are any positive outcomes of these treatments is, unfortunately, completely unknown.) That's why it's strangely a bit anti-climatic, I think. The practical effect of the end-of-treatment milestone is the absence of a negative…eventually.

Still, I am beginning to see the wonderful return to the healthy "normal" that I have prayed for. A state where pancreatic cancer is something that happened to me once upon a time. It is a something - as with most everything else about this disease – that changed my life for the good but I don't want to go back to.

I have also been appreciating that if I was part of the other half of the 6 billion people sharing God's good earth, I could very well be dead (if not very sick) right now. I am blessed to have been born in the very rich western world where we have come to expect the medical community to fix us up when things go wrong, even on a cellular level. I am blessed to have had my cancer detected, a superlative surgery performed and adjuvant therapies available to me. I can't complain about any minute of any of it – so long as I stop to consider the alternative.

So, I have been doing what I can do to get strong again. I walk a mile to and from the train station on most work days. I have been increasing my running mileage. I play softball occasionally and roller hockey on most Wednesday nights. I am fortifying the soil for maximum healthiness. I am a little too tired all of the time but less and less so. Now, I'll be getting stronger daily coming out of the chemo. As the poisoned and frozen ground thaws, seeds are poised to burst out into the warm spring sun of recovery. Getting back to max will be an epiphany prompting a celebration of my fantastic life yet again.