Today was day 14 of my third round of chemo. Round four starts tomorrow morning. I am looking forward to it with trepidation and excitement.
First, the excitement....this will be the last round! Hooray! It will be good to have this behind me, and to start to move on to the next phase of treatment, in about five weeks -- surgery, and recovery.
Round three taught me a lot about what they mean by the dosing for chemo being "cumulative". It's been a grind. The dark days were longer, extending well into the second week, and the climb back has been a challenge. I can see now why they don't allow a round five!
Throughout the first three rounds, I've been trying to exercise when I could - it helps with the recovery, and is one indicator (for me) of the physical impact of the chemo. That starts with walks, but has progressed back to the cross trainer at our local gym. In round one, I was back at the gym on day 9, and doing an hour each day on the cross trainer. It felt good. In round two, I was also back on day 9, initially limited to 1/2 hour but quickly built back to 45 minutes per day. That was my limit. This cycle, it was two days later before I made it back, day 11, and after 20 minutes on the cross trainer, that was it. I was pleasantly surprised to make it out of the gym on my own, about 45 minutes later. I went back yesterday for 1/2 hour, my limit for round three. I'm glad that I'll have plenty of time to digest round four.
In the meantime, I'm ever heartened by the support, prayers, and good wishes of family and friends. There is a phrase in Hebrew called "chesed" (or, hesed). The word "chesed" is typically translated as acts of "kindness" or "loving kindness" for which there is no expectation or opportunity for reciprocity. In mystical Judaism, chesed is considered the highest 'action' attribute of G-d. There are many examples, but some are bringing a new life into the world, burying the dead, and visiting or taking care of the ill.
Having been blessed with good health for most of my life, I never fully appreciated what it means to be on the receiving end of such kindness. Now, I'm blessed with it -- the deep support and care that I'm receiving from my family, and the many ways that friends, near and far, have reached out, sometimes just to say "I'm thinking of you". Each means a lot to me and is a source of new strength, helping me along on a sometimes difficult path. It is also an education to me as, at times in the past, I've found myself not knowing what to say, so I've remained silent. Turns out, the words need not be any more eloquent than "I'm thinking of you".
As the door opens to this last round of chemo, I'm excited that this phase of my treatment is almost over, a bit anxious about the next two weeks, and truly appreciative and stronger for the support and kindness of family and friends. You are all a constant source of strength, the wind at my back -- thank you!