Tomorrow is Wednesday. Wednesdays are chemo day.

And tomorrow isn’t just any chemo day. Tomorrow, I start cycle four of my chemo.

Today – this lovely, magical Tuesday – was a good day. The best I’ve had in a long while. I had so much energy, I felt almost normal. (At least, according to the standards of my ‘new normal’.)

I felt like I had a bit of my old sparkle.

I threw Rosie up into the air and caught her to make her giggle.

I rode the tube without any anxiety.

I could even take the stairs two at a time at the station, which felt pretty darn athletic given the shape I’m in. Especially considering that two weeks ago I had to ask people to spot me going up and down stairs, because I couldn’t do it safely on my own.

I’ve come so far.

But…

I’m only at the halfway point. I’ve got three more cycles to go, assuming my body can hold out long enough for me to finish the full course of treatment.

And tomorrow it all starts again.

I’ll be back in the chemo suite for nearly eight hours.

Following that, I will probably be in bed for the next week. If I’m lucky. If I’m less, lucky, I will have taken up semi-permanent residence in the bathroom. Or worse: the hospital.

If last cycle is any guide, I may be too unwell to make it down the stairs to play with Rose. I may not have the strength to lift her safely for days at a time. I may not even have the energy to realise how much I miss her until I start to emerge from teh fog.

We keep tinkering with my dosages – reducing the chemo, and adding more drugs to cope with the side effects. So I am optimistic that things will be easier.

But I also know now what I’m dealing with. Many of my side effects are less severe than they were in the early stages. But fatigue is cumulative. Even if I am doing better, things are going to be hard.

The uncertainty is one of the hardest parts. I have been told by my oncologist and other medical professionals that the regime I am on is tough, and is unpredictable compared to some other chemotherapy schedules.

With carboplatin, some of the side effects show up later, in the second week rather than the first. It can feel like riding waves – and like the ocean, you don’t know whether the it is going to lap gently around your legs or crash mercilessly over your head until the incoming wave finally breaks on the shore.

I am lucky I have people who love me and are here for me to support me through this.

But it is a heavy burden – just making it through the day feels like an accomplishment. And it is particularly wearing for the person in the partner/main carer role.

Three weeks ago, I had to ask my parents to come and encourage me to drink sips of water so I wouldn’t wind up dehydrated and need to be hospitalised. I knew I needed to consume liquids, but the fatigue was so extreme that I could only manage to find the strength to take little sips if people helped me sit up and encouraged me to do drink.

As I contemplate the road ahead, I feel an urge to prepare for what is to come.

But how do you prepare for the unpredictable? What contingency plan can possibly handle the magnitude of the unexpected? And when I am so tired already, how do I find the strength to get all this set up in place?

It comes down to the same advice I was given at the beginning of my journey, from another woman who has been through breast cancer and come out the other side.

Take it one day at a time. One moment at a time. One breath at a time.

My mind keeps circling back to the image of those waves. They crash the most violently when we brace ourselves against them and resist. When we relax our bodies and let the water lift us and shift us, it is a completely different experience.

I think a similar pattern probably holds for my path through treatment journey. If I can release my expectations and accept the experience, whatever it may be, and let it wash over me, the easier and gentler it will become.

Easier said than done. But I’m willing to try.

I keep thinking of the lyrics of ‘Storm Comin”, a song I love from the Wailin’ Jennys:

When that storm comes, don’t run for cover,
When that storm comes, don’t run for cover,
When that storm comes, don’t run for cover,
Don’t run from the coming storm, no there ain’t no use in running.

When that rain falls, let it wash away,
When that rain falls, let it wash away,
When that rain falls, let it wash away,
Let it wash away, that falling rain, the tears and the troubles.

Whatever comes, at least I had this lovely, golden today.

And in the end, storms always pass. No matter how hard that rain may fall.

Photo by Torsten Dederichs on Unsplash

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