It's been 365 days since a surgical resident stood over my masked up face awkwardly holding cutting instruments. Here's how things are going a year later.
An entire year has elapsed since I was diagnosed with colon cancer. The cancer experience is esoteric in nature. Only so much can be conveyed through storytelling and art, but I will do my best to share why this day is not a joyous one for me.
Once again it's that time of year where friends, family, and colleagues get together to celebrate the holidays, imbibing in such abominations as eggnog and snacking down on abhorrent recipes of fruitcake.
For my 35th birthday, the Ontario healthcare system gifted me an oncology appointment: my first since finishing chemotherapy less than a month ago. I officially received word that I'm in the NED stage of my my cancer treatment. No evidence of disease.
I was diagnosed with stage IIIC colon cancer as an elder millennial—thirty-four when I received the news—and facing my mortality so directly was not something I'd ever done before.
I want to preface this piece by saying that it was incredibly painful to write. It took me about three hours and a dozen Kleenex as I revisited the experience of my mom living with colon cancer. I miss her terribly and, with my father's permission, have published this in her memory with the hope that it helps others navigating their own losses understand that they are not alone.
Heading into survivorship is an interesting thing. It marks the end of treatment. yes, but it comes with some new pressures. When your job through treatment is to focus on getting better, what do you do when there's nothing left to be done?
Finally, I'm done. One surgery and twelve gruelling chemotherapy sessions later, I'm sitting at the end of my treatment path. Well, I will be when I have my take home infuser disconnected on Sunday.
Sitting in the chemotherapy unit, I can't help but look around at the different people who find themselves in such a terrible place. Here, under the glow of mismatched fluorescent lights, between the clinical, beige walls of the hospital, people are fighting for their lives.
Dealing with cancer since February has been exhausting. As I approach my final few rounds of chemotherapy, I can't help but wonder how long the exhaustion will last. Will I ever find my energy again, or am I doomed to be a husk of my former self?