Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The bells are ringing!

And the Grinch with his Grinch feet, ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled, till his puzzler was sore, Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. 

"What if Christmas, he thought doesn't come from a store?, What if Christmas perhaps, means a little bit more?"
 The tree is sparkling, the gifts are wrapped, lists are made, we enjoy lazy mornings of sleeping in and running last minute errands. It is the end of 2015, my year of recovery. My year of returning to work, my year of putting my journey with cancer farther and farther behind me. I have enjoyed incredibly good health this fall, a minor cold which I was able to withstand better than my family members. 15 months from my last chemotherapy treatment, my energy levels are good, my spirits are high - there have been some difficult times for people in our lives who have lost loved ones and I struggle at times to keep my anxiety levels manageable. The smallest of worries can still affect me quite strongly as I fear "something bad" happening. I know that this is normal for those who have gone through a cancer diagnosis and thankfully it passes fairly quickly. We have such a full busy life that I am able to jump back into my hectic new role as Developmental Support Teacher, juggling a large caseload, driving the kids to work, friends, gymnastics training, hockey games. Our world is back to the way we knew it and the worries take a back seat to our front view of LIFE!

Today I return to the Grand River Cancer Centre, it is my regular 4 month check-up time. In retrospect, scheduling it on December 23, was to avoid missing work but in my heart, I know it will be the best early Christmas present for me, I fully believe that I will be in continued remission. But there is a tiny tiny part of me that wonders, now that my guard is down, will they find something in my bloodwork that is cause for concern? Will it change our Christmas? I also know that returning to the Cancer Centre is a reminder of all the patients who are facing Christmas while in treatment, I see the faces lined up to register at the front desk, every chair taken waiting for bloodwork, the uncertainty about where they are headed. For those people, I pray for healing and respite from treatment for them. I wonder if they could see the smile on my face and know that I am at the end of this long path. They certainly knew when that gong rang out in the foyer. I was pleased to hear those bells three times while I waited to see Dr. Stevens.

I am so excited to share that my blood counts continue to be perfect! My ESR rate is 4, which means the level of inflammation in my body is low. A soft predictor for a return of lymphoma. What does this mean for me? This was my last visit with Dr. Stevens, I will now see an oncology nurse practitioner every 6 months. What a huge milestone for me! It really has to be the best Christmas present ever!

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