I start chemotherapy in eleven hours, at ten tomorrow morning. Today has felt like one of the steadiest days of my life. I spent much of it with my brother and father, who make it easy to feel healthy. I am healthy, and cancer cannot define me.
This morning I awoke trying to put words to my feelings about my last day before starting chemotherapy. I felt like a cat, about to embark on another life. That would have made today like the last day of my current life, and that is what I felt like for much of the day. Still, I am not much of a cat person. I prefer dogs, which I think have one life, but they too could have more.
Later in the day I started to feel like tomorrow would be the beginning of a life as seen through a new filter, perhaps in the style of something close to film noir, shot by a director taking too many sleep meds, always looking for more color and energy.
These thoughts weren’t so much depressing as representative of reality.
I don’t know what chemotherapy is going to be like. Perhaps I wouldn’t have these thoughts at all were my treatment for an hour a day for a few days, or even for several whole days. But I will be hooked up to an IV for 45 hours over the next five days. This is a lot of time, relative to anything–a work day, an overnight sleep, a daylong hike, or even a day of lounging. I will be lounging, with potent drugs dripping into my veins and spreading throughout my body. I thus imagine that chemotherapy will be my life for the next week. It will be a state of mind, affecting my body, and therefore my mind. That’s ok. I am ready to embark upon this adventure.
Still, there are so many new feelings about this day before chemotherapy that I cannot express in words. It feels like something has entered existence, right beside space and time, and that whatever that thing is, along with space and time, has come to a standstill. My family pushes through the stillness with the intent to maintain calm, yet the stillness resounds calmness. I couldn’t ask for more calmness. I struggle to not call it a death (not death).
There is also a strangeness to the idea of living from chemotherapy. I have this cancer in me that feels like it should kill me. I don’t want it to. I do not hope it to. I do not believe it will. I do, indeed, wish to survive through this and become a stronger person. Yet there is a huge part of me that believes I am cheating death, and even nature. I can hear the voice of a friend mocking such a portrayal of nature–the chemo drugs are indeed derived from nature. I also fear someone close to me misconstruing my words as a false desire to let the cancer take me. I wish and plan to win this battle and soon share this story with my daughter. Yet the story seems warped.
This warping sensation has only grown over the last several days. The calmness has intensified as well. I suppose I could be nervous. Perhaps I will get nervous tomorrow morning, but I imagine tomorrow will be even calmer.
I can only presume that these feelings are from my inexperience and unknown travails with cancer treatment, but I expect to be well-versed soon enough.