So there is this part of my brain that for the last number of years has held dates.
Not “Mom” dates or “Work” dates or “Birth” dates … but “Cancer” dates.
It really does feel like a separate part of my brain.
Visually I’ve always thought of it like one of those old clock radios where the numbers flip over onto themselves. You know which ones I mean? I’m really not sure where that vision came from, but that’s what it is. It’s what it has always been for me. An old clock radio from the 70s.
In my head though it’s not time that flips over, it’s dates.
There have been a slew of dates in this part of my brain over the last years. So many I can’t begin to remember. Depending on where we were on our journey the dates could be years away, months away or only days away. I actually remember a time they were hours. Just hours. Maybe that’s why my brain pictures it like a clock. Because there was a time my goal was hours.
But regardless of how they were measured – hours, days, months or years, there have been very distinct goals – milestones – for us. The next place to reach for. The next place to get to. The next step closer to recovery.
But I never ever got ahead of myself. I was always very good at that. One date at a time. That was it. Never look too far ahead. Give myself a goal – something to reach for – but not too far away. Concentrate on the next date. Did we get there? Good. Acknowledge. Celebrate. Whisper Thank You. Then my brain would flip to the next one.
No more Daunorubicin. Good. Check. Acknowledge. Celebrate. Whisper Thank you. Next.
Last Lumbar Puncture. Good. Check. Acknowledge. Celebrate. Whisper Thank you. Next.
Bone Density, Wall Motion, MRI, EF, Neuro/Psych/GI consults. Good. Check. Acknowledge. Celebrate. Whisper Thank you. Next.
But now it’s October 17th, 2014.
And do you know what the next date on my 1970s clock radio is?
It’s tomorrow. October 18th, 2014
And do you know something? There’s no date after that on my clock radio. No more measuring time according to cancer. Do you know why?
Because tomorrow – my son will be five years chemo free.
For five years his body has stayed in remission all by itself – with no help of any drugs whatsoever. No 6MP or Pred or Dex or Peg or Dauno or Doxo. No Vincristine or TG. No platelets or IGG or Whole RBC. No Methotrexate or Septra . No needles in his spine or legs or chest or arms. Nothing helping him stay in remission.
Three years was the brass ring. Three years was when our lives changed. If he were to relapse the odds were it was going to be in the first three years off of chemo. But five. Five years is the magic. The moon. The stars. If three years was the brass ring, five years is the gold medal. The standard in cancer care.
I don’t know what will happen to my clock radio now. I don’t know if it will find another date to focus on, and stay vivid in my mind, or if it will be like so many other things in the past years and fade away to another part of my brain … still a part of me – still present – but not so defined. I don’t know what it will be like. But I do know this. I am thankful for that clock radio. I’m thankful for it as a coping strategy – it kept me focused and on track – It kept me aware of what was important. I would keep saying to myself … “Get to this date …. Just. Get. There.”
October 18th, 2014
And above all … always … Whisper Thank you.