On August 29, there will be SUCH a relief, a conclusion, a mic drop in our life. It will be the day that Scott’s chemotherapy regimen, which began on February 13, is FINALLY completed. All the appointments, worry, chemo – and emotional – exhaustion will all be over in three weeks from today. Twenty one days until we can catch our breath and call this ordeal we’ve been enduring – and trying to incorporate into our life – OVER.
Yes, the end is nearly in sight – It’s almost here. We can feel it creeping into reality day by day. The closeness of it really hit home when we were scheduling our next haircuts a couple weeks ago. We usually schedule them five to six weeks in advance and when our stylist mentioned an available date, my first thought was to count to see if it was “pump off” day (the day that the wearable pump that delivers chemo to Scott for 46 hours after his “in chair” treatment is removed). But you know what? By the time we have our next haircuts, chemo will be over. There will be no more “pump off” days to work and plan around. In that sense, the end is right around the corner.
This living with chemo experience quickly becomes the norm. It’s nothing short of amazing how the routine of chemo treatments becomes, well, routine. But as I said, it’s almost over. Three measly weeks. So close…and yet so far away from today. The fact that we can see the finish line with greater clarity, yet we’re not there is, honestly, a weird place to be. It’s still too early to celebrate the conclusion of chemotherapy because there are still two more treatments to endure. Even though he’s been told he’s tolerating chemo well, it’s not over yet. Two more times facing the chemo chair and thinking about the awful stuff they’re infusing into my Sweetie’s body. Two more times seeing him turn pale and develop dark circles under his eyes. Two more times of post-treatment fatigue and nausea watch.
How, I wonder with considerable regularity, have we gotten through this? This past year has been incomprehensible in so many ways and on so many different levels. We’ve faced things we’d never conceived, much less feared. One. Fucking. Day. At. A. Time. But gotten through we have – almost.
That’s not to say that there haven’t been dark, desperate minutes, hours, days… Even with the end in sight, we’re weary from the continual state of shock and fright we’ve been living in for the past six months: Times when one or both of us has wanted to scream, retreat, curl up into a fetal position and/or cry until there are no more tears in us. We’re often sad, scared, overwhelmed, confused and lost at sea all at the same time. We’ve been living with our breath held – and that part of the journey is now almost done.
Sure, “real life” carries on as much as possible, and we’ve soldiered on as best we could, with our spirits buoyed with our ever-present irreverent humor and unwavering love. But we are forever changed, having been challenged, humbled and made keenly aware of our strength and true priorities. Difficult life lessons have been learned firsthand, whether we welcomed them or not.
So on the 29th, the pump will come off, he’ll receive a liter of intravenous hydration and be equipped with a Neulasta to boost his white blood count – same as the previous 11 pump-off days. Yet how will it be different knowing it’s the last time? It’s such a strange place to be almost done, yet not done. We want it to be over, but it’s not and we can’t know what that will feel like until it really is behind us.
In the interim, we will celebrate our 26th anniversary on August 21. Who thought there’d ever be a day that rivaled our anniversary for personal significance? I’d say this date is almost as important – the day we put chemo behind us!