February 6, 2016 was the one year anniversary of the cancer diagnosis that changed my life and the lives of my loved ones forever. None of us will ever be the same. I don’t mean that in negative ways only. Many wonderful things came out of it. But I’ll never feel quite as secure about my health again and there are lingering side effects from the treatment that saved my life. But nearly six months after my final chemo treatment I’m feeling great and show no symptoms of ovarian cancer. I thought for this blog post I’d put up some pictures of what last year was like.
February 17, 2015: Surgery Day. I was trying really hard to look brave here but I was terrified of what the surgeon might find above and beyond what we already knew about.
Early March, 2015: I got a short haircut in preparation for chemo. This is my longtime hairstylist and good friend.
March 17, 2015: wearing the St. Patrick’s Day bling a friend sent me on my first day of chemo. I had been crying in the car and was so scared. It turned out not to be as bad as I feared.
Late March, 2015: a gathering of dear girlfriends who supported me while I got my hair buzzed. It was starting to fall out and I wanted to take control of the situation as much as I could. We laughed and had a really good time. It turned out to be a great day. I’m wearing one of my wigs here.
This is what the haircut looked like. I really, really liked it.
Memorial Day, 2015: My daughter sang at the Thomasville, NC Memorial Day ceremony. A group of paratroopers parachuted into the stadium. Their chaplain, pictured here with me, gave me a St. Michael’s medal that had a million miles of jumps on it. I carry it to this day.
July, 2015: kind friends invited us to use their house in North Myrtle Beach for a long weekend. Here I am bundled up against the sun: too much of it is dangerous for a chemo patient. We had a very relaxed weekend.
August 18, 2015: the final day of chemo! It was so very exciting. I got to ring the bell at the infusion center. This was the sign that my mission was completed. We went to dinner at the Capitol Grille that night and they treated us like royalty.
Here are the essentials that I had with me at every chemo session:
The big bag held all the stuff I needed, the most important of which was what we fondly call “the chemo blankie.” It’s very soft and I cuddled under it every time. We still cuddle under it today.
This is the nurse who was with me most often during treatment. She was funny and kind and really knew her stuff. I always felt safe and cared for.
I refused to consider the chemo drugs (taxol and carboplatin in my case) poison. They were going to cure me, after all! I called them “the good stuff.”
I couldn’t have gone through chemo without the most essential element of all: my husband. He sat in the chemo buddy chair and worked during every treatment. He had meetings on the phone while I slept away (completely oblivious) and made sure I had whatever I needed. Then he would take me out to lunch and back home where I would sleep some more.
Here I am with two important women that I didn’t even know just over a year ago: my gynecologic oncologist (AKA the woman who saved my life) and my cancer counselor, who helped me sort out my feelings throughout the process of healing.
I thought a lot about the anniversary of the diagnosis in the days leading up to it. I wondered if I would be upset or melancholy. As it turns out I wasn’t. I can’t say that last year was a horrible year even though some pretty awful things happened. I’m still here, I feel good and I love my family and friends more than ever. I’m grateful a million times over for my life and for all the kindnesses that people showed me. I’m optimistic about my future. I don’t want to fight this battle again but I can assure you that if it’s necessary I will fight just as hard as I did the first time.
Thank you for looking at this past year with me.