About 6 weeks ago I had a CT scan that showed no changes – NED which is cancer talk for No Evidence of Disease. No tumors, lesions or anything funky. For now. This is great news. It guarantees nothing as far as the future goes, but it basically means I’m in remission for now. I’ll gladly take it.
This weekend has been really nice. We have spent a lot of time outside, getting some Vitamin D and playing and reading. 75 degrees and low humidity agrees with me. I feel more like myself. Today, at one point, Cass had three neighborhood friends over and I was discussing books with a neighbor who works at the library. The sun was shining, the kids were squirting water guns. I looked around and thought – holy crap, am I lucky. I live in a beautiful place that has had clear blue skies for a week now – not the norm for the Burgh. I have gotten back into the swing of things at a job I love. And, the past few days I’ve spent time with some of the best people we’ve met since we moved here.
I was thinking back to how, before we moved, I prayed daily for almost a year for good friends and neighbors wherever we moved. Three years later, I can honestly say, those prayers were answered better than I would have been able to plan myself. God has given me people I can count on. People who care. People who step up. People who share honestly, celebrate victories and mourn defeat with authenticity and grace. People who encourage and empathize, use emojis in just the right way and enjoy a nice Lemon Shandy. I have always had great friends. Lots of great friends. And I’m full of gratitude that, while relationships I formed in high school and college shine brightly to this day, I have been fortunate enough to stumble across such funny, fun, grounded people in my 30s who get me and let me get them.
I’ve also had some success in my marathon relay training. I spent March and the first half of April quietly panicking and thinking about what a moron I am for trying this, and how I must be insane for thinking I could run alongside world champion runners a distance further than I’ve ever gone. But on Sunday, I had a breakthrough moment in my training. I was on my third mile (my distance for the race is 4.2 miles) and my goal for that workout was 4 miles. I realized, looking at my phone, calculating the distance and time that, not only was I going to make it, but my time was better than I thought. It was the first time in my training that I celebrated as I was running and thought, maybe even said out loud “I don’t totally hate this!” It was 80 degrees, I was running in a parking lot made of black top encircling a middle school building and a slightly shady guy was controlling a drone that seemed like it might be sort of following me. Which was weird. But I was happy. Really happy. And not scared. And not mad. And not sad. I feel full of life. I feel restored.
Throughout this last battle with cancer and my frenemy, chemo, I never lost hope or gave up or went into unbridled rage or anything. But I’ve had a lot of difficult emotions to sort through. And dark clouds of fear and disappointment and frustration and anger have lurked nearby and even taken up residence right above me at times. You can’t do cancer happy and carefree. But joy is a fire that burns within us. Sometimes the flame dies down, but those embers never go out fully if our trust is in God. My joy is growing, fanned by gratitude and the blessing of a break from the really hard times. It feels exactly like crossing the finish line of a race you didn’t think you could do. It doesn’t mean there isn’t another race on the horizon, but you can look back and go “I did that!”
Who knows what’s next? Maybe I’ll do another triathlon. Maybe I’ll get my book published. Maybe I’ll take up water polo. Or something quieter like sewing or photography. Maybe I’ll go to all of those normal doctor’s appointments I have put on hold, like the dentist. And organize that karaoke night I’ve been meaning to. My rendition of Shoop by Salt N Pepa is legendary.