Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Next Step

As long as they let me in a week from Wednesday, then two weeks from today will mark the fifth day of the fourteenth round of chemo. That's the last scheduled day of chemotherapy. It's exciting. Maybe it's just been going on for so long, or maybe I know there's more to come, but for whatever reason it just doesn't really feel like anything is ending.

The radiation oncologist told me before I left the thirteenth round that they will likely be able to treat all of the remaining tumor spots with radiation. She said it would happen over six weeks, five days a week, which might grow tiresome, but I'm not worried about it. She also told me that radiation may slightly heighten my chances of acquiring a sarcoma twenty or so years down the line, but if it does happen, the tumor will likely respond to radiation. It's ironic, I know, and I'd like to give her the benefit of the doubt and believe that she actually did read my chart or learn my background or whatever before she started telling me all of this, because, wait, oh yes, I already have a sarcoma! And the point of radiation is to kill this one so that it doesn't kill me in, say, a year or two. Bottom line, I'll take my chances twenty years from now.

I guess that overall it's good news. I was hoping they'd be able to radiate all of the remaining spots, so now six weeks of radiation just becomes another milestone. I know I said it doesn't feel like a whole lot is changing, and maybe that's because I'm looking primarily at the big picture, but it's definitely important to appreciate every accomplishment for its own worth. Enduring each round of chemo has felt like an accomplishment, and it's something that nobody can ever take away from me. And that's worth something, I know, I'm just having trouble finding the joy in it just yet.

For some reason, I'm finding it hard to appreciate the journey because I'm so focused on the end result. Maybe "appreciate" isn't the most appropriate term, since there hasn't been much fun involved, but it's still odd to me that the anticipation of finishing chemo hasn't infused me with renewed energy. Maybe thirteen rounds have taken a toll and I'm hitting some kind of wall, but I refuse to accept that.

It has to be up to me; that's the only thing that makes sense. I can still set my sights on the finish line, while reveling in the good days and the progress I've made so far, because the truth of the matter is that none of the doctors knew at the beginning that I'd be where I am right now. I've been told that years from now, this may all seem like a distant memory, but I don't buy it. I don't think I'll ever be able to truly distance myself from this experience, partly because of the fact that it could become a reality again at any moment. I think it could be a blessing in disguise, always reminding me to treat each day, each moment as a gift.

It's the journey that makes the destination so much greater, right? Well, I think in the case of beating cancer the destination is the reward, and the journey, for the most part, sucks. But that doesn't mean I should stop celebrating the things that merit celebration, no matter how small they might be. There will always be obstacles to overcome, but when we conquer one we don't actively search for the next, we pat ourselves on the back, deservedly, for a job well done. And that's the way it should be. It's worth it to take each opportunity to be excited; it's a lot easier to tell when we've done something good than it is to predict what's going to happen next. I'd rather be excited than apprehensive, because whatever's going to happen next is going to happen either way.


  1. Awesome wisdom young friend. I'm with you on this... that you can choose to be excited even though the journey has definitely sucked... and because you are about to rock the end of chemo!!!!!
    Yes, 5 days of radiation a week for 6 weeks means more sucky journey, but that the goal and expectation is to get rid of all of the sites is very good news. And when you mention the joy in the good moments ahead... I think, what do any of us have anyway? Just these precious life moments...
    Thank you Jonathan.
    PS I really do think it will get behind you in a way you can't fathom right now.

  2. Hey man,

    I can only imagine how difficult it is to find personal gratification from what you've been through thus far. But for what it's worth, you've inspired me and likely many others with your determination to not be beaten. I've seen you get knocked down and bounce back enough times to know that you got this. Let me know when you're back in Bethesda.

    miss your musk,

  3. it will never be a distant memory but the strength of character you clearly possess will ensure that only the important legs of this journey will remain with you in the future...the parts that remind you that every small success is so much more important than any sized failure. not even remotely comparable, I nearly died in a car accident when I was 15. I am now 29 and I do not let a day go bye where I do not remember that I was blessed with a second chance at life and that I was shown what struggle is truly like and I excelled at the task of overcoming that struggle.

    In a few years I plan to be the first in line to have you autograph the hardback copy of your chronicle, "Chemo (does not equal) Therapy: how staying positive helped me defeat the odds." And in a month or so I very much look forward to meeting you!
    - gabrielle