The anniversary of my final cancer treatment has passed, but I’m still getting used to it. I want to be kind to myself, and honor where I am, so I’ve needed to be quiet these last couple of weeks. Most of the time I am like a little beach rock, cradled in my own hand – mostly smooth, a little rough in places, but reassuringly solid. At other times, I’m a bit delicate, like I need to be handled with care. No jostling, please.
When I saw Dr. Pearl, we congratulated each other. “We did it!” I said, and he nodded and smiled. We talked about what’s next (the same: monitor my CA125 levels and PAPs with the same vigilance as we have up to now), how often I’d like to see him (every six months, please), and how I’m doing (pretty well). We talked about statistics, and that they really do matter. And that yes, considering the advanced stage of my uterine cancer, there was a strong chance I’d experience a recurrence within these five years.
Some would say that I beat the odds, but I prefer to say that in my travels I left the percentages behind. I’m lucky – lucky that I’m in the artful care of Dr. Pearl, and lucky that I found the strength to do the work. And I do believe that my magic parking space helped.
While I was at the Cancer Center, I went down the hall to the Medical Oncology department, past the door to the chemotherapy rooms (I avoided looking at the door, and surprised myself). I found the office of the cancer patient advocate, and asked her if there is still a need for hats for patients at the Center – and there is. I explained that I’m on a hat-knitting bender, and that I’d love to knit hats throughout the summer until my next appointment in October. “Men’s hats, too?” I asked. “Most definitely!” she answered.
So my sock yarn hats will have homes, and I get to keep going. They’ll be soft, just right for tender scalps. They’ll be warm and bright, because I know how cold and dark that journey and those chemotherapy rooms can be. They’ll make me happy, because I remember how much the hats I received meant to me back then.
And because I get to say things about my cancer travels like “I’m lucky” and “back then” and “I get to keep going,” I’ll leave these thoughts where they are. I’m going to keep being kind and tender to myself. I’ll keep being grateful, and I’ll stay on this road into the next five years.