5.23.2014

40 Rounds

The prospect of having to go through 12 whole chemo treatments seemed like a daunting task once upon a time - a very long, long time ago.

I came home from my first treatment and made dinner with my infusion pump slung over my shoulder like I was some lady-mercenary from the Amazon. I naively thought this wouldn't so bad after all. I woke up the next morning paralyzed by nausea and everything went downhill from there.

With every treatment, I'd stare at the calendar and wonder how on God's green earth I was going to survive another 11 10 9 8 7 6 40 more rounds of chemo. 40 freakin' rounds!

At the time, I thought my cancer journey would end after 12 rounds and I could slam the book on this chapter of my life forever and never talk about it again; one of my dirty little secrets that would never be part of cocktail hour conversation in those imaginary circles I socialized with.

And here I sit, pump attached to my waist and talking about my 40th round like it's a milestone.

Some of you might be the glass-half-empty types and are wondering what I have to show for the 40 rounds I've been through. And your answer is obviously nothing. I have absolutely nothing to show for it on paper. I am practically still at square one, with those innumerable pesky little things still in my lungs. Chemo has not done its job because I still have cancer.

Then there's my home team; the glass-half-full types. We look at me and know that those 40 rounds are worth it. Sure, I still have cancer growing excruciatingly slow in my lungs, and I'm in just about the same place I was when I started chemo. But being in the same place means that I'm still alive. And it means that cancer hasn't advanced forward, grown more than a few millimeters or shown up somewhere new.  I'm walking around with a disease that has barely progressed because chemo has done its job.

And that's powerful for me to consider. Especially when I meet families or read the stories of people who weren't so lucky, with a diagnoses similar to my own. There are people who didn't respond to treatment and only had 6 months to live, and mere months to love their kids enough to last a lifetime.

So here's to 40 rounds, and 40 more if that's what it takes. I will not go into that oncology building happily, but I will go willingly.

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