I haven’t been riding my bicycle much for the past two weeks, partly due to being out of town and partly due to having sole possession of a car for a whole entire week. I learned a lot that week–namely that you can go much farther much faster in a car, and it’s amazing how quickly I’ll take the easy way out, even if that means paying a few bucks for parking. Good thing I mostly don’t have a car, because I’d rather ride a bike, even if I forgot that for a few days.
Monday’s forecast looked hot and humid, a chance for thunderstorms in the late afternoon, just when I’d be riding back up the hill to home. I considered taking the bus, maybe catching a ride home, but I wanted to ride my bicycle, so that’s what I did.
This week was one of regular bike rides, to and from work, just like the pre-cancer days–down the hill, take a right, lock up, and reverse it at the end of the day. It’s a good kind of weird to just act normal, and it’s also exhausting; I ended every day with a bone-crushing fatigue that frankly I’ll take over cancer treatment any day. I’m better, but I’m not just fine, and that’s ok.
The wildest thing has happened, which is that I’m done with active treatment for cancer and I’m already able to do things with my body I kind of feared I wouldn’t be able to do again. The last six months were brutal in so many ways, and also less brutal than I was expecting, but as I emerge on the other side of this round of cancer treatment, I’m getting back to living as I used to live. My sister and I have been talking about those stories of people who survive cancer and then reinvent themselves in amazing ways. We agree those are likely people who didn’t like the lives they had going all that much. Me? I loved the life I was living, and getting parts of it back so quickly is a huge gift. I’ll take that over being a SuperSurvivor any day.
Today was a beautiful spring day–sunny, not too hot–and I had my penultimate radiation session at Hopkins. I rode my bike the way I ride my bike to the hospital, down Barclay, a left at the Tool Library, across the street and another left at the cemetery, a right, a left into a terrible bike lane, and a right into a slightly better one. I locked up outside on a rack that’s not bolted down and grumbled about that in my head before spinning through the doors to the elevator down to the basement. It’s amazing how quickly routine becomes routine, and this has been mine for the past month.
Today’s ride took me over to Johns Hopkins east hospital campus, as per usual. Today is the start of my second week of radiation treatment, and I got up plenty early to ride my bicycle for that 8:15am appointment. The promise of 70 degrees and sunny made me almost too excited to sleep.
I’m six weeks out from chemotherapy, and I cannot even begin to express in words what a difference it makes to be six weeks out from and not six weeks into chemotherapy. I don’t know how to explain it. It’s like I’d been living in a perpetual present, unable to look outside of my immediate physical self or beyond the precise moment. I’m in a different present now, one that reaches beyond the boundaries of my body and connects to the world again, just a little bit. And I’m starting to make plans for the future, and they aren’t about cancer. I feel so much better. It’s astounding. Continue reading