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[VIDEO] Done radiation. Now what?

12:15am. Monday, January 26th. 

How I’m feeling: Tired but I know that I need to get some of this down – while I’m feeling a little something. 

NOTE: That’s a “b” for my good friends “BNOTIONS” on my hoodie. I forgot to mirror-edit this video. Whoops.

It’s been just over 10 days since my last radiation session. Since then, things have been interesting. How have I been coping? Well,  it mostly feels like there has been a whole lot of nothing going on – but I’m realizing that the whole lot of nothing feeling is there because there is a whole lot of ALOT going on. So much so, that there’s a bottle neck happening right now.

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Hanging up my gown in my changeroom after my last radiation session. My radiation routine became like clockwork. On my last day, I realized that my routine was about to come to an end. It was something I was happy about – but it also left me feeling a little anxious.

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Tossing my gown in the laundry basket after my last radiation session before leaving my radiation unit.

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After I managed to change out of my gown and in to my clothes after I had completed my last radiation session, I sat back down in the change room and had a tough time leaving.

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A text message to a friend.

For the first time in a long time, I don’t have daily check up/treatment appointments and am not in the thick of recovering from treatment. Actually, that’s a lie – technically I am still recovering from that high dose chemo I received in October (and will be the case for a few more months) and radiation (which takes approx. 6 weeks) – but at least I am not woman-down from it all. That said, it hasn’t been until now where my mind has slowly been playing catch up with everything that I have experienced over the past year – everything from the few weeks leading up to diagnosis until now.

As the thick of it was happening in 2014, it was happening so quickly that I couldn’t process it all. Not even close. I just had to act – and act quickly. By the time I was trying to learn about what I was going through, more information about my case would be dumped on me or I would already be on to the next treatment. Every time I stepped out of Princess Margaret Hospital – I was exhausted just from the new information I’d be left with to comprehend. I cannot tell you how many half-read pamphlets, articles, documentaries, videos and books I have. Everything that I went through happened at a much faster rate than anyone could even begin to comprehend. On top of that, I was moved quickly through this all because there was a timeliness to my treatment program to increase the chances of success. It is certainly an understatement when I say that my head felt like it was going to explode for most of 2014. Now, in 2015 – things are starting to really seep it’s way in. It’s overwhelming.

Recently, I’ve asked myself “At what point will I feel set free from all of this?” The immediate answer is “When I’m cancer-free”. You see, I’m the kind of woman that does not crack a smile until I’ve got a signature on the dotted line and the first instalment of payment has been processed. But what I’m learning is that hearing “Carolyn, you’re cancer-free” may not be for a while. I have spoken to many whom are months to years after their last treatment – and have still not been cleared for being cancer-free. The reality is that I am still living with cancer right now – and could be for a while. That said, if being “cancer-free” is when I finally feel free from all of this, I have to realize that I could be holding my breath for a very long time. I’m exhausted. And so, I’m trying to find other things to set myself free with. For instance, no longer having to be in the hospital every single day. That’s something to celebrate, right? That’s something I can feel a little more free from! No longer needing assistance to take a shower. That’s awesome as well – and the list goes on.

Some of the other questions that are swimming through my mind since my last radiation session have been:

  • What the hell do I do now?
  • How does this change the way I live my life?
  • How does this change my professional aspirations? Does it? Should it? 
  • Would it be foolish to resume business as usual as they were pre-diagnosis?
  • How can I possibly apply all of the things I’ve learned through all of this?

Note: After writing the above, I’ve realized that I’m being very hard on myself- surprise surprise. I’m also trying to force the process. Things just don’t work that way. There is a factor here that I cannot control – and that’s time. I’m realizing that this is going to take some time.

I feel like a fish out of water. I feel like over the past year, I’ve fallen in to deep waters, have been treading to stay up, bobbing up and down, never knowing how mean the next wave was going to be and when it would come, being knocked out, brought to the brink of giving up, then making my way back up the surface only to keep on treading. Now, I’m finally getting closer the shore – but everything has changed since I fell in. To the point where things are almost unrecognizable. There is not one thing within and around me that has not changed. Me getting diagnosed with cancer was a massive blow that caused every single gear to shift. And so, there’s a part of me that is nervous to tread out of here enough to make it to the shore.

I’m not really sure how to figure this one out, but as I work through it – I’m going to just live. In fact, maybe that’s how I’ll figure it out – by just living!

I have no idea how to thank each and every one of you for everything you have done. I don’t know if there will ever be a way! I suppose I should just focus on living and being the best me I can be. I’m glad I’m here. With the help of a friend, it dawned on me the other day that this is something I should celebrate. She expressed with so much emotion that she was so happy that I’m making it through. None of my loved ones want to acknowledge or think about the possibility of me losing this battle and leaving this world from it. But the reality is that there was a time when we didn’t know if I’d make it in to the next day. But hey, everyone: Here I am. I made it in to 2015! And I plan on being around for much longer 🙂

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