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Can’t keep my hopes down

It’s been a while since my last update - partially due to the holidays (which were great!) but also due to the fact that not much has changed.

I’ve made peace with my drain, even if my surgeon has not. I’m feeling better, and if you’ve seen me in the past week or so, you’ve probably told me I look better, too.

“That’s what twelve weeks off chemo can do!” I quip each time, the count of off-weeks growing steadily and almost to the point of being alarming: I would feel a lot safer back on chemo.

I’m still dealing with the frustrating side effects of October’s surgery, but even my symptoms seem like signs.

Granulation tissue—the tissue that grows to fill in a wound—has started to develop in the area around my drain. Each time I stand up or shift position, it—ouch!—tears off the tube. It’s painful enough that I started back on pain killers, but even so, I have to admire its chutzpah: it is intent on healing, damnit, and it will take any 30 minutes of my stillness as a window of opportunity.

At night, I can’t sleep. I’ve developed restless leg syndrome, which is just as irritating as it sounds and which requires me to shake my feet wildly every few minutes seeking relief. (Sadly, my iPhone doesn’t register this activity in my growing step count.)

I creep to the kitchen in search of late night calories, then sit up in bed and try to read. My nighttime standbys of recipes and Zillow have given way to new preferred content: I’ve been obsessively reading Peloton reviews.

And it seems I want one? Like, to the degree that I enlisted my mother to help redesign a room to accommodate it. My work friends will know how surprising this is: several of them will recall me agreeing to take clients to a SoulCycle class, then realizing I had to attend myself. I was solidly last on the leaderboard, very nearly died, and swore I would never do that again. Ever.

Is this what people mean when they say cancer gave them new life?

My red blood cell counts are still low; and I still lose my breath walking at what used to be my normal pace. I made a quiche for Christmas, and even that small exertion left me crabby and exhausted. My daily step count continues to rise, however, and yesterday I asked Per if he thought activity with low red blood counts is akin to the marathoner who trains on a mountaintop. Once my counts are restored, will I be in the best shape of my life?

I know I have months and months of chemo to go; I’ll feel worse again before I feel better. I won’t feel like eating vegetables or going for walks, much less spinning on a Peloton.

But I can’t stop feeling optimistic for a healthier me in 2020.

My next scan and oncology appointment isn’t until January 12-13th, but I’m ready to call my doctor to see if she would authorize me to begin systemic chemo on the 6th. My surgeon already admitted he would authorize it if she pushed, even with my drain still in.

“Healthy and done by 2021,” said Per. I’m making it my mantra—and I’m ready to get started.

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