Thursday’s bike ride took me down the hill and east for a gym class and brunch with my dear friend and work wife. We call it “brexercise,” and it had been over a week since we did that, and that turned out to be too long. I was in a good mood. The lifted heat wave has been a treat, and having some time away from the office, even more so. I was happy to see my friend, and my body was feeling strong. And I knew I was going to get to see my radiation oncologist for a routine follow up, and I just love her, the radiation oncology nurse, the techs, everybody. I saw them all the time in one of the lowest times in my life, and I was looking forward to seeing them in this, a seriously great time in my life, which I’m getting in no small part due to their work.
I’ve been out of town, in South County St. Louis, for a couple of weeks, no bike in sight. It was good to be there with family, especially since part of what we were doing was saying goodbye to my wife’s grandmother. Gma was much beloved, the kind of grandma who took every grandkid on a solo date before school started, for food and a show. A devout Catholic who said the rosary every single day, she was delighted to have two queer granddaughters and their wives join her for Christmas Eve mass last year, her only request: “No kissing!” Continue reading
I’ve been riding my bike again, because that’s just how I get around. Some days I get on my bike and start pedaling and feel deeply myself again, familiar, at home. It’s a good feeling after most of a year feeling like I’m not myself anymore, and never really will be again, not the same way, anyway. I am so comfortable on my bicycle, me and that seat, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of miles, almost ten years together.
And some days I feel like I’m just moving this body, still shellshocked, to and fro, the bike just happens to be the way I’m doing it.
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