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The Next Phase

ejourneys's picture

Oddly enough, I have not felt depressed since I got my cancer diagnosis. I've stated earlier that I feel as though I am on a perilous adventure, but an adventure nonetheless. My mindset is that I am facing this intruder head-on and fighting the good fight. I also realize my limitations and have been cutting myself a lot of slack where and when I need to.

That said, I have teared up exactly three times in connection with this process:

1. After I had finished a plank, while still undergoing tests prior to my diagnosis. I had written in my journal on February 27, "Other meditation has been Whitacre's "Winter." Hearing that after Brazilian Birds, when I reached either 3:30 or 3:45 (I forget), created a catharsis in me. Tears of awe -- a combination of enduring the plank and facing a possible new and dangerous adventure. It's hard to articulate."

2. While answering a couple of questions in the wonderful card game, My Gift of Grace. Again, they were tears of awe and connection, this time focused on the love I've felt from others.

3. This past Thursday, after the needle had been disconnected from my port and my small bandage and tape put in place. Before I left my chemo chair for what I hope is the last time, Crystal, one of the chemo nurses, gave me this:

I couldn't speak because my throat had closed up. I just smiled up at her and placed my hand on my heart. Before I left the chemo bay, I was greeted with congratulations from fellow cancer fighters and we wished each other good luck.

As chemo infusions go, this last one had been low-key. Most of us had our recliners at full-tilt and spent our time napping or were semi-conscious.

I had brought fruit and cheese platters for the staff: one for the front desk, one for the lab, one for my ARNP and the doctors, and one for the chemo bay. I have "Excellence Award" nomination forms, but I want to check with the office manager (who was away from her desk when I was there) because I want to commend around 15 people, at least. I know only first names in most cases. Everyone there with whom I've been in contact has taken very good care of me, so I want to make sure they get some acknowledgment and recognition for that.

My next appointment there is not for another three weeks -- the first time I have not had a weekly appointment since April 7, when my baseline blood readings were taken. It feels strange. I have yet to unpack my chemo bag.

My blood work continues to show improvement. My iron and immunity (white blood cell and neutrophil counts) are both back to normal (yay!). I am still anemic and my protein is still low, but those numbers should improve in the coming weeks. Radiation also affects blood work, so I'll see how I do there.

I was surprised to see that my hair had begun to grow back even before I had finished with chemo. I thought I had seen some growth a couple of weeks ago and wondered if I were imagining things, but others are also noticing that my fuzz is a little bit fuzzier. It's not unheard-of.

I did have a "0" countdown doodle for chemo, but I hadn't backed it up before my old computer bit the dust last week. (I'll post it if I can retrieve the file; I've got a SATA/IDE hard drive converter on order.)

But I do have a doodle for my upcoming radiation treatments, which begin on Monday at the complex across the road from the cancer center and will continue Monday through Friday for about six weeks:

Full size

Doodle is based on a photo I took of myself in bed and a reversed still shot from the movie Young Frankenstein. The lightning bolts are based on an additional image that I pulled off the web.

The treatments will be slightly different from this representation. :-)

In-between the end of chemo and the start of radiation, I am celebrating my birthday. That Purple Heart Award is the best present ever.


Alexandra's picture

No more chemo and Happy Birthday! May radiation be a breeze!

P.S. You're so freaking talented.

ejourneys's picture

Going well so far!  Art and humor help preserve my sanity.  :-)

Pixie Dust's picture

EJ, the time has finally come for you to celebrate that the lord was with you all this time, Now for rads going everyday for 35 days seems to be rough for me but I know you will pass this with flying colors. May the angels be flying all around you while you are taking rads. I am very proud of you with what you have posted here on Expressios Gallery. I have enjoyed reading all of them and also all the beautiful pictures. You are an inspirition to alot of people. Keep us posted about your rads and beautiful pictures,  (hugs)  Pixie

ejourneys's picture

Going well so far!  Thanks for your support!

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