The Final Countdown

Every time I go to the infusion center for chemotherapy, I announce out loud to myself the countdown of how many treatments I have left. This little self-ritual is something that makes me smile and gives me hope – a pep talk of sorts. I have tackled the treatment in waves, so my first countdown was 4 Red Devil treatments. I didn’t even fathom life after those treatments, and I did everything I could to stay in the present. I’m so glad I did because man, those were the toughest! When I moved on to Taxol and Carboplatin, my countdown became 12 treatments. Because of the carbo lowering my blood counts, I was stuck at 9 for three weeks. Sometimes I would cry and sometimes I would laugh as I repeated “9” three weeks in a row. I knew I had to persevere. My regimen changed and I was prescribed an immunity boost, so I began my countdown again.

9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 …

I only have one more treatment left. 

Next Monday, April 24th is my last chemo treatment before I move into pre-op appointments for my double mastectomy and reconstruction. My surgery is scheduled for Monday, June 5th at 12:00pm, and with this date, I feel like I have been given a light at the end of the tunnel. Chemo is really going to be over. I have endured some hard days, and just last week when I wasn’t feeling too hot, I realized … man, I’ve been on chemotherapy for SIX MONTHS. Six months is a long time; yet, it’s not that bad when you think of what I am gaining from going through this experience. When this is all done, I imagine I will have spent 9-12 months healing and in exchange, I will have gained years to my life.

To help me cope and heal, I’ve been working on a piece called metaMORPHosis at the high school, and everything is coming together beautifully. Our concert is called “Bloom” and shows open next weekend. I cannot wait to share the result with you, and I am grateful for how art has been an outlet for me. My last treatment is Monday, which is our first tech rehearsal, so I won’t be able to go, but come Tuesday… I’m hoping I can be there to surround myself with the energy of the students. They’ve been on this journey with me since November, and whenever I feel low, I think of them and remind myself that this fight is about so much more than me. This fight is to show my students how to persevere, how to be strong, how to smile in the face of adversity. Funny story – when I told my principal of my diagnosis, I said “You know, we go into this profession to help our students become better people. I always talk about being brave and facing challenges with hope. Now … I’m going to have show them what I mean … $%&@.” Through our tears, we laughed. I mean this IS what education is all about and cancer has certainly given me the clarity I need to be more than a teacher to my students.

Stay tuned for pics from my last chemo treatment!

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