Yesterday was the last of eight rounds of chemotherapy. It really feels great to be done, but I am a little nervous because now there is no more “medicine” for me — that’s in quotation marks because chemotherapy is the medicine to help me get better from breast cancer, sure, but it is so toxic that it’s more like poison. Is, actually. Yesterday the chemo nurse said that once she dropped some Adriamycin (one of the drugs I had) on her finger and it burnt her so badly that she had to seek treatment.
Sure, there is surgery ahead to remove whatever’s left of the tumor (I had chemo first to shrink the honking thing) and radiation, too, I imagine (they’re going to throw the kitchen sink at me, and why not?), but still, chemotherapy is the medicine for cancer.
And I’m done with it.
And I’m still alive.
I want to continue the healing process with something less toxic than chemotherapy but that still offers as much firepower. Now I feel ready to get into some meditation and visualization and alternative forms of healing. I’m looking into books and tapes by Tara Brach, Deepak Chopra, Louise Hay, and Jon Kabat-Zinn. While I was going through chemo, just getting through and taking care of my family and going to work was all I could handle. I was able to make good progress in bringing myself around to the present and in sitting with gratitude for my many blessings (of which there are many and for which I’m overwhelmingly grateful). Now, it’s summer and I’m off from work, and I think I can concentrate on taking it deeper.
Except, instead of getting into meditation right away, since the end of chemo yesterday, I have been thinking about getting a new pair of shoes. Is that wrong? Wanting a new pair of shoes for no other reason than greed, desire and yes, hot longing, is pretty much the opposite of Zen Buddhism and the types of energies I’ll need to channel to do healing meditation and to practice daily mindfulness and gratitude.
And why shoes? Buying shirts feels weird now because I don’t know what my new shape will be after surgery (more about THAT another time). Buying pants feels wrong now, too, because I lost some weight after my diagnosis, and since I didn’t mean to lose it, I’m not sure if it will stay off.
So, I keep thinking about shoes.
Down, girl, easy.
You know, even though I have quite a bit of treatment ahead of me, I just feel celebratory. The house is full of flowers from well-wishers, there is a deadly chocolate mousse cake in the fridge from my sweet husband, and my adorable daughters keep kissing my bald head saying they are glad I’m done with kermit-thermanies so that now my hair (and eyebrows and eyelashes) can start to grow back. A dear friend came over last night and we got take-out Chinese food (very yummy to me after chemo — explain that?!), and we dug into that cake.
And I’ve gotten the gift of another day with my family.
How that all feeds into a hankering for shoes, I don’t know. But somehow, it seems to fit. A sturdy new pair of shoes will be just the thing a body needs to help take the first steps of a long journey.