When you are in the midst of any kind of trial it is hard to imagine that it will be over some day. Fortunately, we occasionally get to begin to see glimpses of the light at the end of the tunnel, or at least in that direction. I have been marking milestones along the way of treatment. It is too overwhelming at first to think about all that is ahead as far as treatment is concerned.
First it was anticipating the surgery, waiting for results, praying the drains would come out soon, and healing. Then it was counting each dreaded chemo infusion down and looking forward to the good week in between. Next came radiation with an almost daily countdown but it still seemed to last forever. Now it’s the herception infusion every three weeks but it’s still too far away to even begin to think about a countdown. In the meantime it’s little things like waiting for all the fatigue to disappear, for the “chemo brain” fuzz to go away (although that’s a good one to keep as an excuse as you get older), for my brittle nails to stop chipping, and achy joints to improve.
The light at the end of the tunnel is becoming brighter as my hair begins to grow back. It was kind of nice not having to shave my legs or underarms, or tweeze my eyebrows. At the same time as I have to start doing those things again it makes me smile to know that my body is slowly mending itself and getting back to normal. It will still probably be awhile before I go out without wearing a wig or scarf as the hair on my scalp is so short and I don’t like the way I look.
When radiation was finished my radiologist told me to continue to moisturize my breast twice a day and that in a month it should look normal again. I found this hard to believe as it was literally blackened in areas, especially around the surgery site from radiation burning. I also had hard scar tissue there as well. To my surprise three weeks later even the appearance of my radiated breast looks almost normal again.
By the time I had started radiation I had finally stopped gaining weight but have not lost any weight since. Between going back to work in September, and the winter and the holidays coming, I don’t see any coming off for a while. Guess this will be one are that will not be returning to normal for awhile.
I have a feeling that “normal” for me will be a “new” normal. I guess I can’t expect things to be the same as “BC” (before cancer) as “AD” (after diagnosis). Many things have changed that can never be the same again and actually there are things that I hope will never be the same as BC. Having cancer has changed me not only physically but in other areas as well. I have had the time to reevaluate my life, my relationships, my goals, and to think about what really matters. I feel like a new person, like I’ve been given the chance to start over. A fresh start. A new start with whatever time I have left in this world.
I watched a DVD the other week on Joni Eareckson Tada who after 45 years in a wheelchair as a quadriplegic (from a diving accident) was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. http://www.joniandfriends.org/television/cancer-jonis-journey-part-1/ She mentions how it was a good experience in that it changed her on the inside and has helps her to live her life now in the moment. Galatians 5:25 says, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Joni does not dwell in the future, but is taking one step at a time, responding in the “now.” She is able to wake up happy each day wondering what God has in store for her for the day.
We are all given the opportunity to begin a new life here on earth. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (NLT) In Revelation 21:4-5 we are given a glimpse into eternity for those who belong to Christ, “ God will take away all their tears. There will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain (OR CANCER). All the old things have passed away. Then the One sitting on the throne said, ‘See! I am making all things new. Write, for these words are true and faithful.’” A pain free, disease free, burden free future for eternity. That makes me smile from ear to ear.