I had my LAST chemo infusion on Thursday. Although it was a good to finish, I didn’t get too excited because it’s not the infusions themselves that are the hard part. It’s the side effects. This round hit me more quickly, as I had a nosebleed that evening. But bone aches have been pretty minimal so far, and I’ve had no more nosebleeds since Thursday (knock on wood). The overriding side effect has been tiredness. I have no energy, and just doing basic chores around the house is very tiring. But my sister flew in yesterday from New Hampshire to be with me for a week, and she’s a really good caretaker. Right now, she’s at a local Walmart taking care of my list. She asked what I want to eat for the Superbowl viewing this evening (we’re rooting for New England because that’s her “home” team). That’s a hard question to answer since I can taste very little. Textures appeal to me more than tastes. And some tastes don’t appeal to me at all. So she’ll cook for me but keep in mind that she’ll be the one who can enjoy the tastes.
The next treatment step is that I’ll see my radiation oncologist in a couple of weeks to have a CT scan and get measured and fitted so that the radiation hits just the right places. About a week later, I’ll start the daily Monday through Friday radiation for six and a half weeks. That’s another reason I didn’t get too excited on Thursday. I still have what I see as a pretty long haul left. Even though I’m through with lots of the treatments, one complete round still lingers, and until that’s over I won’t get too excited. Plus, feeling rotten is a damper on excitement.
I do find myself looking to the future more now that I’ve had my last infusion. I can’t decide if that’s good or bad. One lesson of this breast cancer journey is that now, the present, is all I have. When I stay in the moment – even if it’s painful – and when I don’t anticipate a future (which I often conjure as something negative) and when I don’t have expectations, I do better. I’m more content, less anxious. I can feel that focus on the present losing some of its sharpness as a more “normal” life seems possible and not so terribly far away right now. But I don’t want to lose my focus on the present. A challenge that I’ll have to face is for me to feel good, to have energy, and not to let myself get swept away in the swift stream of over-activity and the concurrent numbness to the present that comes with it.
But for now, I have enough pain and enough tiredness to stay more in the present and to appreciate what it offers. A soft chair, a computer that lets me communicate with people near and far, unseasonably warm spring-like weather outside, the buzz of the dryer as it completes a cycle, my sister in town running errands for me. And silence. Underneath it all is silence. I have no better moment than right now.