We’re nearly two months out from my last treatment and we had a big week of normal this week. I went back to the office full-time, had a second opinion appointment, ate at a restaurant for the first time in nine months, started jogging again. These are all probably why I also slept for almost 10 hours last night.
I started back in my office on Wednesday. I had planned on going in for a half day on Tuesday to ease back in, but then the day came and I decided to enjoy my last day at home. I worked with my dachshund on my lap and watched movies in the background. I felt a deep sense of sadness around leaving working from home where I had my husband and dogs and walks around the neighborhood. When I started back on Wednesday it was like I had never been gone, despite being gone for almost 8 months. It was so easy to slip right back in, despite no longer looking like the photo on my work ID. The only noticeable differences were new wall decals, a few new faces, new baby pictures at a few desks, a layer of dust at my workspace. It felt a little like going back to work after vacation, except my vacation was through hell and I came back without eyebrows. I love my job and my coworkers, but I think it’s going to take me a while to get used to normal life again.
I had an appointment with another doctor this week to get a second opinion on this whole “wait to see if I still have cancer” plan. I ended up talking to two doctors and they both agreed that the activity that was showing up on the scans was most likely not cancer. Apparently there is a gland in that area that makes T-Cells when you are a child. As you get older, the gland slows and then stops altogether. For some reason, chemo occasionally reactivates this gland in younger cancer patients. It could also be brown fat regrowth, reactionary lymph nodes, or the cancer cells still dying. They pointed out that for this to be cancer it would have to be resistant to my chemo, and if that was the case, it would have continued growing. This has very consistently been shrinking. They said go in for my scan in another month, see that it is smaller or the same, get my port removed and move on with my life.
Two months out I am still dealing with some chemo side effects. More than five minutes in the sun means I break out in itchy, red sun poisoning. My hormones are a wreck (thanks for the notice!). The second question we are asked in every visit (after “are you in any pain today?”) is “how are your energy levels?”. My energy levels are fine during the day but I get tired at 8:30 or 9:0 instead of 10:30–11 now. Then I go to bed and lay there until midnight. The doctor said it could take 3–4 months for things to really even out. For the most part, though, I feel really good and have had a fun time getting out and about again.
Last night we ate in a restaurant for the first time since my diagnosis. We had avoided going out with my weakened immune system because not only could people in the restaurant be sick, the people making the food might have been sick or not washed their hands well enough. I think it saved us a lot of money and stress, but it was nice to finally sit at a table, out in public, like normal people again. I kept thinking about how loud the place was, but also, how good the food was. I ate enough for probably two people. Our waitress asked us if we were all artists because “we were so chill”. I’m sure my lack of hair and the fact that we were all wearing black added to this perception. The thing is, we were all artists in some sense, and I have a small amount of pride in still being recognized as such. After dinner we walked up the street and got ice cream. A storm was rolling through nearby, and we stood outside of a wedding venue eating ice cream under dark clouds. Music pounded and photo flashes popped through stained glass. Bridesmaids slipped in and out of doors in coral dresses and updo’s, clutching thick bouquets and sometimes chasing kids in mini suits. String lights on a patio swayed in the breeze. There was an energy to it all that I can’t get at home and it felt…electric, alive. I thought it might be nice to start this new life with an energy like that.