The waiting period between cancer treatment and getting retested is a tricky one.

By: Robin Harry

Are you sure I’m not alright?
‘Cause lately I’ve been feeling fine!
(Machine – Josh Groban)

The waiting period between cancer treatment and getting retested is a tricky one. It’s like living a paradox, somewhere in between past and present tense. When people ask “how are you doing now?”, a perfectly legitimate question, I actually don’t know how to answer – because I honestly don’t know! The cancer may be gone. Then again, it might not be. So what do I say? I have cancer, or I had cancer? Either one, at this point, is potentially a promise or a lie. (Schrödinger’s cat comes to mind for all the nerds out there like me – or people who watched the Big Bang Theory).

Anyway, I pretty much feel fine these days – my hair’s growing back like a fuzzy Chia pet, there are no random aches or pains, my energy level is almost back to normal, the radiation tan is disappearing – mostly quiet on the cancer front. I’m doing an exercise program at Wellspring Cancer Support Centre, to help me get back some cardiovascular fitness after treatment, and that’s going really well, not to mention it’s a lot of fun. However, I know that recovery isn’t complete. The symptom taking the longest to go away is the chemo brain. While the wheels seem to be turning at their premorbid speed, I still have occasional lapses in memory. I still forget conversations, and there are still things from the summer of chemo that can’t remember.

I hold chemo-brain responsible for one of the nuttier experiences I’ve had recently. Last week, I got COMPLETELY lost in downtown Toronto on my way to a restaurant that I’ve been to dozens of times – because I couldn’t remember if the street I was on ran north/south or east/west, and I had no idea what direction I was walking in. I was completely blank. I looked around me and didn’t remember any of the buildings. So I picked a direction and walked (it was the wrong direction), hoping that I’d remember the next street. Got to the next street, and forgot that one too. So here I am, standing at the corner of Wellington and York downtown, with no sweet clue where I am, completely disoriented to cardinal points. Thank God for Android smartphones and Google Maps! That was unnerving, because that area of downtown isn’t unfamiliar to me.

So while I feel fine, I’m not completely alright yet. Again, another paradox – I’m both well and not well. But I’m getting there!


P.S. Happy Valentine’s Day!!! (or Single Awareness Day, as I like to call it 🙂


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