It has been one year since my last chemotherapy. 365 days.
It's gone by so quickly, and yet it seems a lifetime away. I went back this evening and read my post announcing I had cancer. It made me cry. I thought I was beyond that. I thought I had distanced myself from it. But as I read it tonight, I felt like I was reading about a different girl. I felt so sad for her. So angry for her. As I read on about her, and reminisced about what she went through, I began to admire that girl. Envied her courage and humor. Thought about the strength it must have taken to go through it all. And then I realized that girl is me. We're one and the same.
It whipped past me. I started thinking about that first chemo. Sitting in that cold leather chair in that impossibly tiny yet somehow comforting room, staring at the family and friends that had come to support me. I was so scared. I tried to put on a quiet, brave front, but after the nurse stuck me unsuccessfully three times, I began to bawl in pain. I remember the thoughts I had... Isn't this bad enough? Why does it have to hurt? Another nurse came in and gently placed the iv in my hand. This same hand I have today, with scars from my treatments.
I remember the moment I saw the crimson medicine enter my hand. That very moment I held my breath. I realized there was no turning back. This was really going to happen. I really had to go through with it. I've said it before and I'll say it again... I never really had a choice. I had to do it.
Some people tell me I'm amazing for what I went through, and the strength it must have' taken. I brush it off, almost uncomfortable feeling like I'm any different from anybody else. I say nah, it was nothing." But it was something.
A year's passed, yet I can still flip backwards through the memories of it all. My wedding day, both beautiful and bittersweet. The moment hair started sliding out when I ran my fingers through it. The moment that doctor called me with the results of my biopsy. The scream I let out and the rush of my family coming to hold me. These memories hurt more than you can imagine. Yet they define me today.
I do have positive memories too. I felt so defeated until I met my oncologist. I owe so much to that doctor. He really gave me a strength and positive outlook I needed. I bonded with my mother in law, who was right there with me watching QVC all day long. I got a chance to tell my parents how much I truly appreciate and love them. I discovered a husband that was so incredibly strong and uplifting. What helped me through it all was being able to laugh at myself.
Sitting in the car on the way home one day I noticed a guy staring at me in the next car over. I tipped my wig off at him and the look on his face was priceless. My mom and I would erupt into fits of hysterics every time I would wear my wig a bit too far forward or backward, just to be creepy. Adam and I had a blast shopping for wigs; He even tried on a Jesus wig for me. Memories like these make me smile.
I kept a paper up on the wall with the numbers 1-12 written on it. After each chemo I would cross out one of the numbers. That paper stayed up on our wall, so I could see my progress, so I could count down until the end. Even when I was overcome with nausea and could barely stand, I always made it up to that paper to cross off a number. It was my sense of accomplishment. Nothing felt better than grabbing that big black marker and making a huge X through another number. And in the end I didn't need 12 chemos. I only needed 8.
It's funny because I didn't feel ready to be in remission. I was so surprised when my doctor told me. I remember asking, "Are you sure? I can do a couple more chemos..." But that was all my body needed. I was done.
I've distanced myself from those memories, but it's almost comforting to know that they're still there somewhere. They're part of my history. It is who I am, it is why I am. I should take moments like these to remember, because God damn it, I am amazing.