Crossing the Finish Starting Line

Tomorrow is the six month anniversary of Tommy's diagnosis. I won't share the statistics connected to this feat because they make me queasy, but just know, this is a HUGE milestone for esophageal cancer. We've been fighting for six months, and most days it feels like we've beat it. He can eat normally, is working like crazy, and even performed in an Off-Broadway show this past weekend (it's unreal I know, he's a superstar).

He has two rounds of chemo left before we see where we are at, and make the updated game plan. It's extremely exciting to imagine a near future with less appointments, less chemo poison, less fatigue, and honestly, just less day-to-day cancer life. 

Last weekend, we met up with some friends who are dealing with a similar situation. They have often been resources for us, as their cancer journey began a few years ago. They had recently received a clean scan, and were talking about how they wrestle with the celebration versus the anxiety of the scans to come. Then they said something that really spun my head, and settled my heart. "This is a chronic illness for us, so we just enjoy the good days, and then treat the flare ups that arise."

Up until this point, I had not allowed myself to accept that this is something we will carry with for the rest of our lives. I thought the idea of that would be too much to handle, but after I sat with their words for a while, I felt better. Better than I had in months. Why? Because allowing myself to label this as a "chronic illness" released me from the necessity of an end date. There was no stress about "being done". It's not going to be done...so just relax. Seems counterintuitive, but this concept has grounded me like nothing else. 

Today is a good day, yesterday was a good day, tomorrow will probably be a good day, but if it's not...we'll just treat the flare up...and then move onto the next good day. My fear of recurrence subsided. So what if it shows up again? We'll fight it until it's gone, just like we are doing now. This is a chronic, life long battle that we don't have to worry about today, and I can deal with that.

We're about to cross the "Finish Line" after six months of shock, fears, tears, chemo, radiation, surgery, recovery, chemo again, countless procedures, and hundreds (I'm serious) of appointments. All of that work has allowed us to now walk across the "Starting Line" of the rest of our lives. We know we can do it because we've already done it...and that's really cool.

 

Jessica Walker