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.
I drive some days, so I can then drive on to work, and I’ve taken a car service a few times at the beginning when I was still work out by chemo. But I prefer to bicycle, by far. It makes me feel normal, like there will be a normal after all this. Some people seem to learn a lot from cancer and exit treatment with bold plans to reorganize their lives and priorities. I’ve learned from cancer that I most have my priorities in order, and I love the life I have. I’m so pleased to see it peeking through the curtains. I also like riding my bike to radiation because I like taking off my helmet, my still-mostly-bald head telling everyone at the cancer center that I’m a patient, hoping they see that I’m ok, because I am ok. I ride my bike to radiation because I’m ok.
I was in and out in minutes and got a call from my sister as I exited the building. She was waiting at her cancer center for her first appointment with a breast surgeon. She’s at the beginning of this road. I’m at the end. I was right back there, though, in the early days of fear before you know what’s going on and what’s ahead, when every meeting is a reminder of what you don’t and can’t know yet, when the numbers look good but you also know there might be something behind them. From six months out, though, I know that I can roll with the punches and roll on, and so will she.
We talked and texted as I pushed my bike down the hill of South Broadway toward the $4.50 blueberry muffin I found a couple weeks ago. I wanted it again. I stopped to snap this picture of the lacy ironwork on this building at Baltimore Street. It looks like New Orleans, and the air feels a little like that place, too. I used to live there, that used to be my routine, but now it’s something different, and it’s routine here now too. I wonder what it will look like in the coming months as I transition away from active care and to what they call “survivorship.” One day at a time.
And then I rode home, more calls, she’s scheduled for surgery on Tuesday, barring MRI issues. Great. That’s great news. I hopped back on my bike to the dentist, then home again, then a walk to a late lunch, because this is what survivorship looks like today.