Love. Hope. Community. I will definitely need my superpowers these next few days.
Tomorrow I have a PET scan to determine whether or not I’ve had a complete response to chemotherapy after the first two cycles. If the scan is clear, then I only have to complete two more cycles (4 more treatments) of chemo in order to “mop up” any cancer cells that may not be visible on the scan. If the scan shows any remaining cancer cells, then I have to do two more rounds to achieve a complete response, then an additional two rounds of “mopping up” treatments, for a total of 8 more treatments.
The first scenario means that my final treatment will be on August 14, two weeks before classes start at my new job. It means that I can start teaching this fall. It means that I will no longer be in treatment the following month when I complete my triathlon with TEAM STRONGER. It means, in essence, that I am cured.
The second scenario is by no means the end of the world, or even a worst-case scenario, but it means two additional months of chemo, which I dread terribly, even though I have been incredibly fortunate in tolerating it so well. It means that while I will be able to start working this fall, I will be mostly working on projects from home rather than teaching, because my immune system would just be too much at risk in a law school where stressed-out students (especially the first-years) come to class even when they are practically dying because they fear missing anything. It means that I will still be in treatment by the time of the race, which will be OK (at least I think I’ll still be able to do it), but obviously not ideal. It means, of course, that I am not yet cured. Again, none of this is a worst-case scenario—it does not mean I won’t ultimately be cured. It will just mean that it will take more chemo than we’d hoped to get there.
Knowing what so many other cancer patients have to endure, many of whom can’t even hope to be cured, only to stay alive longer, it feels incredibly selfish to even be worrying about this. Four more rounds of tolerable chemo instead of two is just really not that bad.
But oh, how I want it to be only two. Oh, how I want to be cured already. Oh, how I want to get this disease behind me and get back to living a life worthy of my sweet Hudson’s memory.
Tomorrow is a big day. I am incredibly anxious about it. So in addition to my superpowers (and some Ativan, according to my PA), I need to remember my race tips from back before I started chemo:
1. Take one buoy at a time. I just have to get through this one scan. I will live through it no matter the results, and I’ll move on to the next thing, whether it’s a celebration or more chemo. There will be many more scans with many more fearful “night befores” in my future as we keep an eye on the cancer to make sure it doesn’t return. But I can’t think about those today. I just have to get through this one for now.
2. Think about what you can do in this moment. I’ll have to wait until tomorrow night or possibly even Tuesday morning to hear the results of the scan. I’ll have lots of waiting for results in the future, too. If I waste too much time worrying about these scans and the results, I will miss out on a lot of the good stuff that is my life, like the fact that when I get home from the scan tomorrow, I get to hang out with Jackson and maybe do some fingerpainting. That is the good stuff.
3. You are way stronger than you think you are. Two extra rounds of chemo? Please. I got this.
4. Hudson is always with you. Yes. I changed my profile picture on Facebook to the photo below tonight. It is the first time my profile picture has featured a photo of Jackson that did not also have Hudson in it (one of my side-by-sides). My observant friend Melynn remembered me saying long ago that I dreaded such a moment. And I have. And I thought about it before I posted this photo. But it felt like the right picture for right now. One of the three most precious loves of my life is sitting in my lap. My (purple) hair has thinned to the point that I just feel prettier wearing a scarf. Today is only the second day I’ve worn one. And the scarf is teal (I purposely bought it because it reminds me of Hudson). And I am wearing my Hudson necklace, like I do every day. But as I said to Melynn, I have to remind myself that no matter what picture I post for my stupid Facebook profile picture, or what I do to try to make sure she is part of it, none of that matters, because she is always with me. Always.
This photo is so full of two of my superpowers: love and hope. I share it with you tonight, because you are my other superpower. My community. And tonight, I need your love and your hope again. Thank you.