On Saturday, I did the Power is Teal walk. It was a 5K to raise money for ovarian cancer research. I walked every single step of that entire path with one of my bestest buds, Denise, who came all the way from Maryland to walk it with me. My family wasn’t with me, but Denise was. And so was the lovely lady in this photo. This is Sharon and she was my lifeline at the OPCC while I was in chemo. While I didn’t have her for every infusion, she was there for the majority of them. Most importantly, she was there for the first and the last. I went in with her and I came out with her. I refer to her as my “angel in blue” since she wears navy scrubs at work. She is the sweetest, gentlest, kindest, most loving kick-butt nurse I’ve ever met. I know God hand picked her to oversee my care. I never worry when Sharon’s around.
After the walk, the three of us were talking. Sharon asked me what was next. I’d beaten ovarian cancer into remission. I’d met my first goal of walking a 5K (and my feet are still numb from the experience). I had the opportunity to meet those that have walked the path before me and are thriving 2, 3, 5, 10, 15 years later. I won 4 UC football tickets with paid parking. All in all, a great day.
Now, I reflect on what’s next. I’ve said in the past that remission is far harder than cancer, at least psychologically. When you are in treatment, you know where the enemy is and you are working to throw everything at it to send it packing. Once it leaves, you always wonder if it will rear its ugly head again. Every three months, I get the labs. Every 6 months I get the scans. Every 3 months, I see my oncologist on pins and needles. Did the tumor marker stay the same? Did my scan show something ugly? Am I okay? Statistically, the answers should always point to yes. My oncologist is a perfectionist and rightly so. He spent 5-1/2 hours cleaning every last cancer cell from my body. He looked me in the eye and told me on more than one occasion that he was positive he’d “gotten it all.” I follow his diet and try to exercise. I attempt to get the sleep I need. I am working toward finding some type of inner equilibrium to keep my life balanced. I try to find joy in all things. But that little voice hangs in the background taunting me, keeping me from fully engaging in my life.
I have finally gotten to the point where I don’t see myself as an active patient in the mirror. I finally have enough hair that it looks like I keep it short. The only reminder is that I keep it my natural color. I’m too scared to color it. Hair color can cause cancer on some microscopic scale so I avoid it even though I hate the fact that it makes me look like I’ll be 60 next year instead of 50. I’m just not ready to take that miniscule risk. I do like the curls. Wash and go is great.
What will it take for me to move on? Another monumental life event? I certainly hope not. I had enough of those last year to last a lifetime. No, I think it will be those gentle nudges I receive. Like the thrill of completing a 5K, it will be the small goals I set and complete. I am working hard to lose the weight I had before my surgery. I am back down to my pre-surgery weight. Yes, you read that right. Despite having 10+ pounds of tumors and fibroids removed, I gained weight (thank you steroids). And I learned that the theory that you’ll lose weight during chemo is pretty much that – a theory. Most people have to take so many steroids that even if they don’t eat they still maintain or even gain weight. Add that to the instant menopause and chemo (thank you twice Dr. Pavelka), it’s practically impossible to lose weight. Yet, I’ve had 2 pounds budge off this month. Boy, this is gonna’ take a while. But I digress.
The gentle nudges. For those of you who’ve been gently nudging me to turn the blog into a book, I have heard you. I am working toward creating a devotional book. My hope is that by processing through the past year I can move on with my life and get into what’s waiting behind Curtain Number 2. I have a lot I want to accomplish, but fear has held me back from some things. But God hasn’t given me a spirit of fear and while being scared can be a healthy thing, it isn’t doing me any good right now.
So I’m slowly packing up the past year and checking Map Quest for my next destination. I still plan to learn life’s many lessons, but I hope they are a lot more fun!