My final chemotherapy day is coming up soon! This Thursday will be chemo #6, the last one, and then R-CHOP will hopefully be a thing of the past.

By: Robin Harry

My final chemotherapy day is coming up soon! This Thursday will be chemo #6, the last one, and then R-CHOP will hopefully be a thing of the past. I’m trying hard not to get excited…I don’t want to anticipate it too much and have something go wrong, like my bloodwork coming back low, or me catching a cold, or worse! I will say though, I will be happy when that day has come and gone. It’s been a slice, but I’m ready to part ways with all the drugs. I’m really tired of being sick (and tired).

A lot of people are excited that my last chemo is coming up, and most of them think that I’m close to the end. “You’re almost done!!” I hear that a lot. The thing is, I’m almost done CHEMO. But I’m nowhere near being almost done working through this challenge with cancer. Life with cancer doesn’t really end when the treatment does.

Quite literally, I’m not done yet. I still have radiation planning and about a month of radiation therapy to do after my chemo ends. My instructions are actually to call my radiation oncologist the same day my chemo ends to start scheduling the radiation process, so there isn’t any down time. If all continues as well as it has and on schedule, I’ll likely be done treatment at the end of this year, around Christmas. Radiation comes with all its own fun side-effects (that will be lesson #4), and while it likely won’t be as harrowing as chemotherapy was, it’s definitely a process with its own challenges.

Realistically, even if I was done treatment and the disease goes away, I’m not done with cancer. I have ahead of me years of doctor’s appointments, CT scans, blood tests. Even the word “remission” itself is connotative of something temporary. Lymphoma is one of those pesky cancers that doesn’t give people the satisfaction of certainty of its absence. So every cough I ever get, every ache or pain, every sniffle, any sleepless night – any little sickness is going to make me a little nervous, if only for a minute. The possibility of permanent side-effects also looms; the (mild) neuropathy in my fingers may not go away, the menopause may be permanent, I may be infertile, etc.

I’ve already admitted this to a friend – the prospect of life “after cancer” is slightly unnerving. After spending about half a year just being diagnosed and treated, and then likely months after that to physically recover from the combination onslaught of cancer + chemo + radiation, what exactly is life supposed to be like? It’s going to be a challenge on its own just getting back into some kind of day-to-day normalcy after living through 6 months of unpredictability – physically, professionally, socially. And how on earth will I get by without the free time for my Nathan-Fillion-TV-marathons? (don’t judge, they’re important…)

So while I’m almost excited to be done treatment and I’ll be quite happy when the hardest part is done, I’m not quite ready to say I’m almost at the finish line. I’m not positive there is a finish line. But I don’t need a finish line to keep me running 🙂


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