Hey everybody! @DREW's finished his chemo!! Now that he's completed chemo, he gets pitched back into the real world of life, post-chemo starting now. He’s a fighter and a survivor. I’ve been honored to watch his progress, thanks to twitter, over the past few months. He’s done a great job.
His big day reminded me about my last chemo day, way back in 1993. I was thrilled to close that chapter in my life. No more needles, no more IV hooks. It’s a strange time in one’s life – it’s a milestone that few people will ever have to mark, and it’s a milestone I wish more people could avoid… but until the elusive cure-all for cancer is discovered, some people will have to endure the chemo drips, the radiation burns, and the surgical scars, all in pursuit of restored health.
One thing I’ve always wished I had was a checklist or guide to my new post-chemo life. Here’s my attempt at providing this list for Drew.…(I also shared the list with Brian Simpson (@BSIMI) when he completed his chemo treatments too!)
To Drew, here’s a few things I wish I had known when I finished my last chemo.
1) There is no normal. You’re life will never return “to normal”.
2) You might get anxious. A few weeks out from your last treatment, you might get a little anxious. You’ll realize you’re no longer “actively” fighting your cancer. It can be a strange time. For some people, chemo can act as a security blanket, it reinforces that you’re doing something to deal your cancer. The end of treatment is rather abrupt… One day you’re getting chemo, the next day you're done. No more treatment. It’s like you just jumped into the deep end of life for the first time, without your “floaties”. It can be scary but, don’t worry. The feeling will pass.
3) Listen to your body. Your body is a fine tuned machine. An experience with cancer heightens your sense of awareness of your body and all its interconnected systems. Pay attention to your body – when you’re tired, rest. When you’re feeling blue, acknowledge it. When you’re feeling good, enjoy it. Your body will tell you what you need – just listen to it and respect it.
4) Make sure you go to all your follow-up appointments. This is very important. You might feel like a strong, healthy person and don’t need to see the doctors to “just to check in.” Nonsense! Make sure you check in. Be an active participant in your long-term care. You’re a survivor. With survivorship comes the additional burden of long-term care. Make sure your doctors have a long term plan for you - they’ll keep an eye on all your vital systems and make sure there’s minimal long term effects from your chemo.
5) Celebrate the little things in life. Every day is a gift. Look around; take time to really see things in your life. Beauty is everywhere. Life is a magical thing. take it all in….. Enjoy it.
6) Be patient. As you begin to move forward in your life, you might notice that not everyone around you has the “wide-eyed” optimism and appreciation for life that you now have. Be patient with these people – help show them the way. (Thank you LS.)
You’ve done a great job sharing your story - everyone, including myself, will always gain strength from you.
Drew, welcome to the AWESOME CANCER SURVIVORS club. You were a member the first day you were diagnosed. Congratulations on battling the BIG C monster