My first visit to the chemo suite was supposed to be a simple toodle around, get a sense of the vibe and leave feeling informed and raring to go. What I actually felt like, was a dog being yanked by its owner to the car to go to the vet; all four legs fiercely digging into the ground, body leaning back in complete panic and fully determined to avoid getting in that car at any cost.
Now after 22 sittings in the chemo chair, being hooked up to bags of witches brew through a surgically implanted port in my chest with no complaint, and having 4 more visits to go, I’m back to feeling like that stubborn dog again.
I’m like that marathon runner who has felt focused and optimistic throughout the race, but the second they can see the finish line their body stops making adrenaline and all of a sudden 600 metres feels like a bigger challenge than the 40 some odd kilometres they’ve just covered.
Knowing that stopping isn’t an option, I knew it was time to give myself some form of break. I tried a day at the spa, laughing with friends, playing the piano, editing my book, indulging in chocolate and binge knitting, but nothing would help me relax against the invisible leash hauling me back to the hospital.
So I pulled out the big guns and asked myself ‘why’ I was doing all of this in the first place?
What is that ‘thing’ driving my determination and positivity?
It’s never been enough for me to say that I’m doing this insanity because it’s what the doctor said needs to happen and I don’t have a bucket-list as motivation because I’ve always shamelessly said ‘yes’ to adventures no matter how wacky. Not even the threats made by my family to toss me over their shoulders, shove me in the trunk of their cars, and hook me up personally to the IV drip if I attempted to skip out is enough motivation to get me back in that confounded chair. No, I needed something that truly emotionally motivates me to my core. And as it turns out, I have three; Elena, Ethan and Gracie Rae.
The reason why I chose to do as many treatments my oncologist is willing to give me, drag myself to the hospital when it’s the last thing I want to do, and endure this wild chemo fog is all because of my babies. No part of my cancer story involves me not being there with them as they grow, graduate schools, go on their first date, learn the joys of travel and become who they’re meant to be. I won’t miss a single piano recital, school dance, or cross-country meet and I fully intend to give them plenty an opportunity to roll their eyes at me. They are the reason for my non-negotiable happy ending to this craziness.
Asking the simple word ‘why’ has always helped me solider on, pepped me up with motivation or helped me realize that yes, it’s time to let something go. I know if I get frustrated there is a reason, and these three letters always seem to have the magical solution for me.
So, I’ve let go of that image of the dog fighting against her leash and replaced it with a vision of three and a half year old Elena taking my finger as she often does and saying “t’ome on Auntie.”
Yup, I’ve got this.