Friday, 23 January 2015

Why I'm Finally Celebrating the End of Chemo

"What are you doing to celebrate?"

This was the question everyone asked when I told them that I'd had my last session of chemotherapy.  And why not?  We'd made a policy of celebrating every step of the way so surely we'd have a big celebration planned to mark the end of the chemo era?

The only problem was that I didn't feel like celebrating.  Give me a week, I told people, when I feel better and then we'll celebrate properly.  But here I am, two weeks later, and I still don't feel like a celebration.  My arms and legs still ache and feel weak.  I get short of breath if I attempt more than one flight of stairs.  When I look in the mirror I see a bald head, no eyebrows or lashes and ugly red Taxol cheeks.  My nails are brown and painful.  And I don't sleep well thanks to ongoing hot flashes and embarrassing itching. 

I'm still waiting to celebrate being free of chemotherapy.

Today, however, I met good friends for a catch-up lunch and we went somewhere I have wanted to go for ages - the restaurant on the top floor of the Brussels Museum of Musical Instruments, a beautiful art deco building with great views over town.  As our food arrived, it occurred to me that I would normally be at hospital at that time, every week, with a needle in my arm.  I might not feel better yet, but at least I don't have to do that anymore.

I took my first bite of delicious steak, shared a laugh with my friends and looked out over the domes and rooftops of Brussels - and raised my glass to celebrate the end of chemotherapy.

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