God willing, tomorrow will be the start of my final round of side effects. Hopefully, this will be the last time I have to take steroids and stomach acid inhibitors. Hopefully, this will be the last time I have to take prescription pain killers to deal with bone pain. Hopefully, this will be the last time I have drug induced insomnia. Hopefully, this is the last time for any and all the unpleasant side effects of chemotherapy.
I really shouldn't complain about them. As I keep up with a few others who are traveling the same road, I realize how fortunate I have been. Overall, my side effects have been relatively minimal. Others haven't responded well to the booster shots and pain killers and they spend days and weeks struggling. Many of them have had to have blood transfusions for severe drops in red cell counts. I have been blessed with what I consider to be incredible energy (Watch out for me when I'm on the steroids . . . I get what I affectionately call, "the Frenzies!") and really don't get shut down too much. Especially here in the US . . . I don't feel cooped up as I am able to get out and walk around without extreme fear of getting sick.
In fact, overall, I feel like the chemo journey has gone reasonably well. I'm at the point where I'm asking myself, "Why me?" Not in relation to cancer itself, but in relation to how well things have gone so far. I ache for those whose journeys have been filled with struggle and with one disappointment after another. I cry almost daily for my young 15-year-old cyber friend in Australia who has been moved into hospice care for osteosarcoma (a form of bone cancer). Why couldn't she have responded as well to her cancer treatments?
There are many things I don't understand. I truly, "see through a glass darkly." Just when I think I might have a grasp on something, there's a wrinkle in the fabric that changes and shows me that I don't understand. Another cyber friend (who is a friend of a friend), ten years younger than me, has the same stage and type of cancer I have and yet her cancer has metastasized to her liver and she has lots of pain and struggles in her journey.
To put it simply, life isn't fair. I'm expecting full healing for myself; yet, I struggle with the fact that others won't have that. To be frank, I don't know for sure that I will either . . . but I'm expecting it. Tomorrow's chemo is another stepping stone in that path to wholeness.
I won't pretend to understand and I know that I will struggle for understanding for a long period of time. The role of cancer in my life will continue, long after it is gone from my body.
In the meantime, we've been catching up with friends, enjoying our time with them. It seems strange to not find emails from them in my inbox each morning . . . but that I will see them during the day! I've not quite adjusted to that yet.
American life is busier than Chinese life, primarily because families have more children. Schedules are varied as different ages have different needs. We see that on our own calendar as we juggle an elementary school student, a middle school student, medical schedules and job hunt schedules. We make sure we write everything down on the master calendar in the kitchen so that we know who has what going on when.
The kids' rooms are now fully furnished. They are hoping to find posters to put on their walls at some point in time, but we haven't really seen any that they like. Michael, however, has enjoyed putting up pages from his WWE (professional wrestling) magazine that Rachel got for him. Pictures of their rooms are below. Rachel's room has the white furniture while Michael's has the wood tones.
We pretty much have the house furnished. We still need some bookshelves and a printer, but other than that, we're set. We are very grateful for friends, Craigslist and thrift stores!
The kids are registered in school, but I'm not sure what the next steps are. I hope to visit the schools next week (after my blood counts return to normal) to get an idea of what we should be doing. They will start school on August 21 (Rachel) and August 22 (Michael).
We joined the ranks of minivan owners as we found a vehicle with less than 30,000 miles within the budget we had set for such a purchase. We're already enjoying it quite a bit . . . although today will see it getting a smog test, an oil change and getting everything checked out.
We're enjoying the public library and we think it's the greatest thing since sliced bread. It's all a matter of perspective, though. I picked up the local newspaper and the lead story was about how antiquated the library is and how much it needs a remodel! Different viewpoints. When you come from a place that doesn't even have public libraries, our little local one is like manna from heaven.
Thanks for reading and listening. More to follow.