Walking through Water

Healing.  It’s a slow walk tempered by an elusive resistance that you are unable to fully grasp and move out of your way.  Some days you feel you’ve made great strides, other days you feel your feet are stuck in muck.

With treatment over I was eager to reclaim my life.  As much as I wanted to simply put everything behind me and pick up exactly where I left off, that really isn’t how it works.  For the next five years,  I would be under close supervision.  Year one would include a scan every three months, year two, every four months, year three to year five, every six months.  The first year was critical, as it held the highest probability for the cancer to return.

But I really wasn’t listening to any of that.  I knew I was done.  In fact, I had arranged for my port to be removed by a practitioner shortly after my last treatment.  Afterwards, when I arrived for my first post-treatment evaluation, my onocologist was shocked.

“You did what?!”

“I had it taken out.  I don’t need it any more,” I said.

He sort of fell back upon his chair as he muttered something about that was “ballsy”.  I swore I thought I had heard him give me the green light to remove it.  Guess I was being too selective in my hearing, too literal, too confident, or simply too eager.  What he did say was that I could have it removed after the chemo was done. What he didn’t say was that we might need to use it for chemo again.

Nope. We will not be doing that.  I was certain of it, and I was proven right in the end.

For me, getting that port out was a huge proactive step away from illness.  I had always hated it, and the way it made me feel so… alien.  I felt I belonged in a science fiction movie where you get plugged into a slimy entity that simultaneously provides you with sustenance while it poisons you slowly.  You endure the chill of the swab, the noise of juicy suction, the heat in your veins.  You dare not break the tether for you know the alternative is far worse.  I craved to be rid of it.  When not in use, it often sent waves of pain down my left arm, making me fear I was having heart attacks.  Where ever I went, I had felt it’s invisible chains keeping me linked to the chemotherapy chair. The day that tie was finally broken, it was as if I was finally free, to run again… to run fast… to run away.

Ah… but healing.  You start off with a bang, excited and pent up and ready to sprint like the wind.  But it’s a lot like running full speed into water, all the motions are there, but the minute you reach it, you hit a wall.  No matter how fast you were when you entered this seemingly benign substance, it immediately forces all your efforts into slow motion.  That’s when you realize you better readjust, for it turns out you’re in a long distance event after all.  A five year matter at least, perhaps longer.

In many ways, Overcoming the Cancer was the preliminary heat in a new contest called Overcoming the Treatment.  Turns out they’re both Olympic events, albeit in very different ways.  Now, triumph would be measured in the smallest of gains over the longest of periods with the most consistency of effort.  Like walking through deep water.  So you plod.  You keep going.  One heavy foot in front of the other.  You don’t quit, for there is no going back.  No way.  You remember how God had shown up for you in the past.  And you trust.  You keep the faith that you are getting somewhere.  That you are healing.  And with the grace of God, you will prevail.

Water Lily 1 ©Lynnea Washburn

All portions of this blog are ©Lynnea Washburn.  All rights reserved.

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