I’ve mentioned this before, but I don’t really cry. I get sad, I get happy, I get mad, and my eyes water, but I never REALLY cry.
Well, today, every dam keeping my tears contained exploded (apparently). I woke up to two kids bursting into my room like it was Christmas morning, yelling, “Last day of your medicine! Today is the last day of your medicine!” They ran around, shouting it to the world, the way only a five and three year old could, and I just started crying and laughing with them. I mean, think about that, a 5 year old and a 3 year old running around being grateful for something they shouldn’t have to experience to begin with. Their contagious energy was enough to get me out of bed with a smile.
After my husband and I dropped them off in school and we drove to the hospital, the way we’ve been doing for the past seven months, I was looking out the window (trying not to let him see me cry, because I have a thing about crying in front of people, even him… i know, I am THAT ridiculous about this) thinking about everything. From me finding the lump in the shower to those early doctors appointments to the diagnosis and first day of chemo. That feeling I had the day I came home after the first session and the way I felt like I was going to die that week. My nausea and muscle pain got so bad that I turned to my dog a couple of times (while everyone was at school/work) and said, “Hendrix, this is the end of the road for me.” I just couldn’t imagine living another day. And then I thought of my kids and sucked it up.
Chemo is hard to describe. It’s not the pain in your chest you feel when you lose a loved one (I’ve lost a lot of those and it’s comparing apples to oranges). It’s not the pain you experience when you give birth sans epidural (been there, done that, this is worse). It’s… you know when you read a vampire book or a werewolf book and the “turning” is described? The slow burn they feel radiating through their bodies as each muscle seemingly breaks one. by. one. excruciatingly slowly? Well, take that and picture it happening for days, add hot flashes, nausea, the taste of metal and *there’s this smell I can’t describe, but it makes you want to puke… it’s kind of like taking a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol mixed with saline and pushing it in your nose*, a massive migraine and I think you’ll come close.
This. Shit. Is. Hard.
And today was my very last (God willing) round…EVER. EVER. EVER. EVER. And I can’t stop crying over it. I feel so many things. Gratitude that I DID IT, that I didn’t give up and I pushed through. But my heart also feels so heavy because I know so many others going through this and some of them won’t make it because it’s not working for them and their cancers are too aggressive. I think of the kids stuck to these tubes weekly and it makes me want to do something crazy like take their place so they can live their lives normally. Or these women and men who have such a long road ahead of them. I want to celebrate today. I WILL celebrate this milestone. I just wish I could celebrate it with every single person going through it. I just wish, so bad, that I could cure them all so that we could all cry these happy tears of joy and gratitude together. I can’t. I know that. But it doesn’t stop me from feeling a little bit guilty for walking out of that room today and looking around at the people who I’ve gotten used to seeing every week and knowing that I get to move on, but they’re staying there.
Like I said, there are a million different emotions stampeding around inside me right now, but the one that keeps taking the most laps is gratitude, followed by relief.
I still need to: take my port out, get scans done, go through surgery again to finish my reconstruction, and I guess rebuild the strength this poison took, but those things are a walk in the park compared to this. I mean, I’M GETTING MY LIFE BACK! A SECOND SHOT! Not many people that get this disease can say that and it’s something I don’t take for granted. The bald thing was fun and all, but I’m excited to be getting my hair back, my eyebrows, my energy. And hopefully the next time I’m sore (after this is out of my system) it will be because I went to the gym and worked out. And the next time I get attacked by crazy hot flashes will be much later in my life when I go through menopause.
*I’ll come back and dedicate a post to the things that helped ME get through chemo, but for now, I’m going to soak in this feeling and keep crying (and smiling) and being thankful
** Thank YOU so, so, so much for all of your words of encouragement and your prayers. I couldn’t have done this without you. I’m serious.
And now, some pictures…
Vanessa Rodriguez Sanudo says
Congratulations on your very special day! I haven’t stopped crying since I started reading your post 🙂
Mandy McCauley says
I wish I could hug you. I’m the opposite when it comes to crying, I am extremely emotional. You’ve brought me to tears, I’m so excited for your second chance. You’re amazing, and brave, and strong. And you’re loved by so many people that you don’t even know 🙂
Sandra Ellzey says
I am so so so happy to read this. You are so amazing! XOXO.
Angie thompson says
This has also brought tears to my eyes because I know the feeling after chemo and wanting to give up. I had surgery Oct 22 2014 and am Cancer Free and would not wish this disease on my worse enemy. Congrats to you
Jennifer Foor says
Congrats. You are so strong!!!
Stephanie Muniz says
This issss the last time! We love you
I am so happy and proud for you and your family!!!
Lexie Attea says
My heart goes out to you and your family. I think most people have either lost someone or know someone that has been diagnosed with some type of cancer. My papa passed away at our home on Easter Sunday from lung cancer. It was one of the most difficult times of my life. That was 6 yrs ago and I still can’t get through that holiday without breaking down. I’m so glad everything has worked out for you and your family. Being so open about your diagnosis is truly inspiring. It shows what a strong wife, mother and individual you are. I truly enjoy reading your books and hope to see more of your work. God bless
Bravo..congrats..so happy for u..God speed for an amazing recovery. .I was with my dad for 11 months. .chemo..radiation. .I emotionally know what u went thru ..the physical part is in the bag..u got this. Prayers for you
DD Lorenzo says
I have spent a great deal of my adult life doing “special needs” hair for cancer patients and burn victims. I’m thankful that I write. It provided the opportunity to tell you that you are a hero.Hugs,
Staci Randall says
You are an inspiration to everyone! Thank you for somehow finding a way to make me laugh amidst all the crying. Reading your post helped me understand what my mom and dad went through. I’ve lost many family members to cancer, including both parents…and they were all young. I’m at a high risk level myself. It’s people like you that give the rest of us hope. Hope that we are strong. Hope that we can keep going no matter what. You kicked cancer’s ass. Congratulations!
I don’t have much to say except that:
You’re an amazing woman.
You’re in my prayers every day.
Maria McNamara says
Congratulations!! You have every right to feel all these emotions..let them out!! Stay positive!! This is the 1st day of the rest of your life
Christine Ladouceur says
Huge congratulations on this momentous occasion. You are an inspiration and I praise you for your strength!
You are a truly amazing and strong woman. God bless you and your family.
You are an amazing women, strength of wonder woman, god bless you, and praying everyday for you
God bless you and your family. You’re a very strong woman. Live your life, love, smile, dance and never stop laughing!
Michele Ficht says
Congratulations on your last day of chemo. I know you still have a long road ahead of you. I will keep you and your family in my prayers. Nothing but positive vibes your way. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. I am so happy you are getting your life back. <3 <3 <3 Sending you a huge hug
Julie Kirby says
Claire, all the very best to you in your recovery. It not over by a long shot but you are a strong and determined lady. Best wishes and hugs xx
Kim Box Person says
Even though we don’t know each other I’ve thought of you throughout this journey! I have prayed for you and cried for you! I told my Mom about you and how strong you are and what a true inspiration you have been for everyone!
I’m so happy for you!!! Hooray, for second chances! For your loving heart recognizing others whose journey continues!
I cannot fathom the amount of pain you’ve been through or the changes that this vile disease has imposed on you. I will continue to pray for you! I wish you the best of everything!
Love your strength, your sharing and the inspiration you have been to myself and many others!
Second chances RULE
Lori Meckley says
You are an amazing strong lady. I love that you took something so personal and hard to bear, and you shared it with everyone here. I wish I could hug you and your wonderful family. I can’t even imagine how tough this battle is to fight. It’s a battle nobody should have to experience or share but sadly it’s happening all around us each day. I’m sending love and prayers from my family to you and yours.Warmest Regards, Lori
Sandy Roman Borrero says
I understood and felt every freaking word that you wrote. ((hugs)) You’re a bad ass chick!
Ann Cole says
Congratulations on your journey, for being a warrior and pulling through, for surviving this. Good news. Such good news.One Love <3
Nayab Haych says
You are amazing! I am so happy for you… I haven’t read any of your books but I clicked this link after I read your Facebook post. I’m so glad you got a second chance. I wish I could express my thoughts clearly but I can’t right now. Just know I’m happy for you.
Love, Hope & Best Wishes,
I am so glad that you are getting a second chance on life. I know this experience changes people’s outlook on life. My family has been touched by this disease and it takes its tole on everyone..So God Bless and enjoy the gift of life.
I love you writing
Congratulations Claire on beating the cancer! I pray God’s continued grace, healing, and blessings upon you and your family. I just finished reading your book “Catch Me” and out of curiosity clicked the link for your blog and read of your journey with cancer and now of your triumph.
Your writing truly moved me because I suffer from depression and this story resonated so deeply with me. I love how Brooklyn found unconditional love, finally. I loved the happy ending with her and Nick and Shea, and am so utterly grateful that you got a happy ending as well. Thank you for your words.