"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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