I've been upbeat and optimistic about my health, even if I have Stage III Lymphoma, a potentially scary prognosis. But I haven't been at all worried about my future because it's a highly treatable, even curable, cancer.
I began to wonder if during the interim, between chemotherapy treatments, cancer would begin its battle within me again. I was assured that it would not because the drugs kill cancer cells while my body flushes my system of them between chemo sessions.
But when I began to cough again this past week, while feeling a familiar ache in my left chest as my voice started to croak like a teen-aged boy going through puberty, I felt unsettled for the first time. The last time those symptoms appeared, I was diagnosed.
I then began to worry.
And against my better judgment, I turned to the internet for answers. I was not happy to find that chemo drugs do not work for everyone. Of course, as a nurse I already know this, but I'd been under the expectation that the drugs were working diligently within me, killing any residual cells that weren't annihilated the first or second times. After all, the symptoms that took me to the doctor in the first place had disappeared after just one dose.
But now, as I stare down a two-day countdown to my third chemo treatment, I have to ask: what if it's not working as I'd hoped and expected, and the old symptoms are reappearing because the cancer has continued to grow and invade my innards?
I stare at my chest in the mirror each morning, wondering if the highway of veins has returned. Or if there is any new swelling in my neck or puffiness around my breastbone. When my upper back began to ache a few days ago, I think back to when that first began in April, just days before my diagnosis.
It's in these moments when I have to reign myself back in, then turn inward to what I know to be true.
I have not only believed, but have felt certain since the moment this odyssey began, that I would be okay. I have to trust that when my mind wants to hijack the steady peace I have felt since the beginning. I also have a keen intuition that informs me of what I need to know and I have relied upon it for decades. I know it won't fail me now.
I'm also feeling the best I have felt in several months. I have plenty of stamina, strength, and energy; I continue to eat and sleep well; I have bounced back quickly (twice) from a week of energy-draining chemotherapy; and I have the most positive outlook that I've ever had.
It could also be true that my croaky voice and coughing may be the result of the same allergies everyone has been suffering from, and my backache could be from returning to yoga after a 3-month absence. I have to be careful not to race ahead of myself, giving power to a fear that isn't even real.
For this, I know for sure: I am a strong and vibrant woman whose grit will see me through this experience, with a loving community that has rallied around me from minute one. I also have a supportive team of doctors who know what they're doing.
I can trust my life, and put my faith in what I know to be true. That truth is not only gleaned from the facts, but from the feeling I have when I turn inward.
I am at peace.
And that is enough.