I've mentioned this before, but I don't really cry. I get sad, I get happy, I get mad, and my eyes water, but I never REALLY cry. Well, today, every dam keeping my tears contained exploded (apparently). I woke up to two kids bursting into my room like it was Christmas morning, yelling, "Last day of your medicine! Today is the last day of your medicine!" They ran around, shouting it to the world, the way only a five and three year old could, and I just started crying and laughing with them. I mean, think about that, a 5 year old and a 3 year old running around being grateful for something they shouldn't have to experience to begin with. Their contagious energy was enough to get me out of bed with a smile.
After my husband and I dropped them off in school and we drove to the hospital, the way we've been doing for the past seven months, I was looking out the window (trying not to let him see me cry, because I have a thing about crying in front of people, even him... i know, I am THAT ridiculous about this) thinking about everything. From me finding the lump in the shower to those early doctors appointments to the diagnosis and first day of chemo. That feeling I had the day I came home after the first session and the way I felt like I was going to die that week. My nausea and muscle pain got so bad that I turned to my dog a couple of times (while everyone was at school/work) and said, "Hendrix, this is the end of the road for me." I just couldn't imagine living another day. And then I thought of my kids and sucked it up.
Chemo is hard to describe. It's not the pain in your chest you feel when you lose a loved one (I've lost a lot of those and it's comparing apples to oranges). It's not the pain you experience when you give birth sans epidural (been there, done that, this is worse). It's... you know when you read a vampire book or a werewolf book and the "turning" is described? The slow burn they feel radiating through their bodies as each muscle seemingly breaks one. by. one. excruciatingly slowly? Well, take that and picture it happening for days, add hot flashes, nausea, the taste of metal and *there's this smell I can't describe, but it makes you want to puke... it's kind of like taking a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol mixed with saline and pushing it in your nose*, a massive migraine and I think you'll come close.
This. Shit. Is. Hard.
And today was my very last (God willing) round...EVER. EVER. EVER. EVER. And I can't stop crying over it. I feel so many things. Gratitude that I DID IT, that I didn't give up and I pushed through. But my heart also feels so heavy because I know so many others going through this and some of them won't make it because it's not working for them and their cancers are too aggressive. I think of the kids stuck to these tubes weekly and it makes me want to do something crazy like take their place so they can live their lives normally. Or these women and men who have such a long road ahead of them. I want to celebrate today. I WILL celebrate this milestone. I just wish I could celebrate it with every single person going through it. I just wish, so bad, that I could cure them all so that we could all cry these happy tears of joy and gratitude together. I can't. I know that. But it doesn't stop me from feeling a little bit guilty for walking out of that room today and looking around at the people who I've gotten used to seeing every week and knowing that I get to move on, but they're staying there.
Like I said, there are a million different emotions stampeding around inside me right now, but the one that keeps taking the most laps is gratitude, followed by relief.
I still need to: take my port out, get scans done, go through surgery again to finish my reconstruction, and I guess rebuild the strength this poison took, but those things are a walk in the park compared to this. I mean, I'M GETTING MY LIFE BACK! A SECOND SHOT! Not many people that get this disease can say that and it's something I don't take for granted. The bald thing was fun and all, but I'm excited to be getting my hair back, my eyebrows, my energy. And hopefully the next time I'm sore (after this is out of my system) it will be because I went to the gym and worked out. And the next time I get attacked by crazy hot flashes will be much later in my life when I go through menopause.
*I'll come back and dedicate a post to the things that helped ME get through chemo, but for now, I'm going to soak in this feeling and keep crying (and smiling) and being thankful
** Thank YOU so, so, so much for all of your words of encouragement and your prayers. I couldn't have done this without you. I'm serious.
And now, some pictures...