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Walk, Don’t Run, to the Cancer Treatment Finish Line

jencullenkids
I have five Taxol treatments left.

Which means five plus more weeks of tissue tinged with blood from my nose, of alligator dry skin, of Saturdays that flow into Sundays filled with fatigue and worries of my neuropathy getting to the point of no return to normal.

Then surgery. A lumpectomy.

Then a month’s break.

After which I’ll start my six weeks of daily radiation.

It will be fall by then. Summer will be over. And my son will be back up in Gainesville. All moved into his first apartment and starting his sophomore year.

My daughter will be a senior in high school, working on her college applications and making a few last minute college campus visits.

My kids’ lives are changing so rapidly. So these next few months are precious to me.

Will is living at home again. I get to see his face bright and early every morning. Just like when he was in high school and younger. I make him breakfast and pack his lunch. The difference is he heads out the door to work at 7:30 and gets home at 5:00. Learning new skills, sometimes covered in paint and frequently tired from having to use his body all day instead of just his mind. Such a great experience for him.

I love having him here. He hugs me, wrapping his six foot plus frame around my petite one, and jokes around with me. He rubs my head, calling me baldy. I get mad at him for being messy and he apologizes.

And this past week, Julia finished her junior year in high school. Done with the stress of AP and IB tests and class finals. We had our first relaxing morning together in a long time, after she got home from taking an SAT subject test. We went to a new local coffee shop, then to a thrift store (where I scored a $3.00 straw purse) and picked up paninis at an Italian deli. We laughed and hugged and didn’t worry about anything for a little while.

She starts her first adventure of the summer tomorrow when I drive her down to my parents’ house in Miami. She’s going to live with them for a few weeks while she has an internship with a really amazing firm in Coconut Grove. Then she’ll come home for a bit before she heads off to New York to be with family and take a college class.

I’ll be here. All summer long. Unable to travel still because of my compromised immune system. My white blood cell count is as low as it’s ever been. My hemoglobin is low too. I’m tired. Exhausted, really. All normal side effects of chemo. I’m not on house arrest. I go to work, the grocery store, the occasional dinner out. But I am on town arrest. Staying close to home, except for the foray down to Miami.

I can see the end of my treatments in the distance. (Though I’ll be on Herceptin until next April, it won’t affect me like all of the other meds.) I’m getting closer with every week. I can almost taste my life returning to a new normal. One where I don’t have to worry about getting sick or eating sushi. Where I have short hair by choice. Where I can get on a plane and go somewhere that is not within a 120 mile radius. I’m craving a trip. I don’t think I’ve ever been home for this long a period of time.

And though I want to sprint to the cancer treatment finish line, to be done with this, and for my body to start healing, I don’t want these next few months to go by too quickly. Because I’ll never get them back. And I don’t want to let cancer steal them away from me. Steal away more than it already has, from me and my kids, my husband and the rest of my family.

So I think I’m going to just slow down and walk the rest of the way. Enjoy the summer. Fall will be here soon enough without me rushing it.

Fuck you, cancer. I’m not going to race.

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