I never thought I'd see this day, when I could look at my calendar and see the squares empty. No doctor's appointments. No treatments. No tests.
Okay, in fairness, there is still herceptin treatments for the next 9 months and a mammogram in June. I will follow ups with my oncologists (I think in the beginning those are every 3 months) which may or may not involve other tests. I think the fact that my particular breast cancer presented in the lymph nodes first rather than the breast would mean the oncologist will order regular CT scans to make sure my lymph nodes are still clear. But - I really am speculating since I won't see my medical oncologist for my post treatment exam for another 3 weeks.
The point is, as of tomorrow at about 9:30 am I will be officially done active treatment and will move into maintenance. And I couldn't be happier. I want to cry just thinking about it.
I've gone back and read my blog from the beginning of all of this; from when I first discovered the lump in my armpit in May. It's been a long road and I think I've felt every emotion there is. Fear, denial, hope, happiness, anxiety. I know more about cancer than I ever wanted to and hope and pray I never have to learn more.
I've learned a lot about myself too. We're constantly put through tests in life and have two options, to fold or to fight. I'm a fighter. I knew I was but didn't know just how hard I could fight and how willingly I'd do so. I've had bad days, sure, but overall I've felt good and strong and ready to kick this cancer shit to the curb. As I said in the very beginning. I will beat this. I have to. I have too much to live for.
I've also learned a lot about the people around me; my family and friends. There is no way I'd have had the strength to get through any of this without them.
My husband has been my rock. He's been there every step of the way, ready to encourage me, hold me, fight for me when I was too tired or to do it myself. He took care of me when I was sick and celebrated the small victories with me. I couldn't imagine going through this without him. Cancer has brought us closer, it's made our marriage stronger and it's shown us that we can get through anything together.
My kids; my reasons for fighting. My reasons for being. My reasons for getting up in the morning even when I don't feel like it. They have been so great. Understanding, helpful, strong and encouraging. I know they are scared but they put on brave faces. I love them more than I can ever express.
My mom, brothers and sister in laws have also been amazing. They've juggled their schedules to accomodate my treatments, taking care of my kids, taking care of me. Sean has been amazing but there was no way he could do it all himself. But having my mom and brothers there to take the kids to and from school allowed him to be there for me at treatments. Having my mom and brothers there to take me to treatments when Sean couldn't meant I didn't have to go alone or didn't have to pay for parking (it adds up!) And having them there to encourage me, to tell me they know I can beat this, to build me up when I felt like crap. My mom cleaned my house, did my laundry, fed the kids....all the things I couldn't do when I was run down. It means the world to me.
My extended family and (IRL) friends. It's often said that in times of crisis you find out who your true friends are. I most certainly did. I've discovered who falls into the categories of 'those who know me' and 'those who genuinely care'. For a long time I was hurt by certain people who seemed to have fallen off the earth or failed to acknowledge that I was sick. Several people said to me that it might just be that they don't know what to say and for a while I accepted that but now, I feel differently. If someone really cared, wouldn't they put the ackwardness aside and suck it up? Perhaps. But, I don't stress myself about that because what matters to me more is the people who were there for me. The family who checked in frequently (either with me or my mom) the friends who sent me emails, text messages, phone calls and cards. The friends who brought my dinner, who offered me housekeeping, who gave me head scarves, who brought me boob cakes. The family and friends who did none of those things but instead had a normal every day conversation with me about normal every day things so that I'd feel like a normal every day person and that cancer had not taken over every aspect of my life. It's all the people who supported me that I'm thankful for.
And last, but certainly not least - my cheering section, my chemo angels, my Pumpkin Patch sisters. They seem to have knack of knowing when I've been feeling down and a card shows up in my mailbox (sometimes covered in glitter!) or an email shows up in my inbox with a note from one of them. I'm not 100% sure but I think they made a list of who was to send cards to me and when so that for the length of my treatment I'd get a card in the mail cheering me on. Some were funny, some were sweet and all brought tears to my eyes because it meant someone out there was thinking of me.
I made a scrapbook with the cards I've gotten from them all - over 100 cards because if there is one memory I want to take away from this whole thing it's that there are beautiful people in the world and I have the pleasure of knowing a lot of them. I'm lucky to have my PP sisters and I've said it several times before - one day I will give each and every one of them a hug in person.
Cancer is not a journey one fights alone. I don't think anyone can fight it alone and win. I've been blessed - cancer has shown me the beauty in the people around me. I'm lucky to have them in my life.
And I couldn't have fought this battle without them.
I still have a long road ahead. I have 9 months of maintenance and will be anxious until I hit the 5 year cancer free mark but for now - I've crossed one giant bridge - with an army of people behind me.