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
It’s a sunny day, cool and windy, and I finished my homework early, so I decided to take a bicycle ride. I had to really work myself up for it, and I gave myself a thousand reasons not to take it. It’s too windy. I walked a lot of miles yesterday and my body needs a break. I would rather read. I’m too tired. It took me a good two hours and the nudging of my friend A. to head down to the basement, roll my bike out to the alley, and take a ride.
I’ve spent the past three months in chemotherapy for breast cancer. It has been rough, not going to lie, made more so by a mid-treatment bout with the flu. Jesus. It’s a roller coaster of side effects, and I’m here, a week out from the last treatment, in a bit of a haze from what has just happened. I haven’t been on my bike except for a couple of really short rides, because I’ve been too exhausted and often unsure of my balance. I got on my bike today, though, because the only way to get back on the bike is to get back on the bike, and I want to get back on my bike.
My Groupon for cryotherapy sessions at Charm City Integrative Health has finally been exhausted, and I’d be lying if I said I was disappointed. I liked the way the freezing cold made my skin feel for the few minutes after it was over, but to be honest, if was REALLY cold in that thing. Now that it’s not a zillion degrees out, it stopped feeling as good.
Today’s bike ride took me on my usual route down the hill and to the right to the bike racks next to the ER at University of Maryland Medical Center. I’ve done this ride at least a hundred times, likely more, but today felt a little different. Yesterday I learned that another cyclist was hit and killed by another car. I saw the post on one of my bicycle groups on Facebook, and commented on the link right away. How tragic, I said, because it’s always tragic. I know what it feels like to get the news that a car has taken someone you love. I know that when someone dies, they are gone forever, and you are forever different. I know this, and I also know how resilient we are in the face of grief, as long as we let ourselves feel it all–or as much of it as we can bear–and as long as we stay open to it, and talk about it. I know that a year and a half after my dad was killed by a car, I am ok. I feel joy again, not as often or easily as before, but it’s already back. And it hasn’t even been two years yet. But I’m different now, and it isn’t a difference I’d wish for anyone. It hurts, badly. So when I saw the news, I knew another group of people would now have to tread this far too well trod road, and I hate that.
I’ve had such a busy summer so far–teaching, writing, learning, walking touring, meeting, editing, etc.–that I haven’t had much of a chance to just ride my bike around. I’d been eyeing this Tuesday for a couple weeks though. I had a few things to do that morning, but the rest of the afternoon was mine to ride wherever, and with a weather report that had us topping out at 80 degrees, I was pretty excited.
Last week was a sweaty one, the first of the summer here in Baltimore. It was just so hot, and I found myself a little nervous that I wouldn’t be able to ride my bike in it. I talked myself through it: you’ve ridden through 8 summers in Baltimore and New Orleans, every single one of them way too hot to ride through. You’ll sweat, but that’s it, so just sweat through it. Go as slow as you need to, it’s not a race, you’ll acclimate. Ultimately, though, since I don’t have a car and the bus is so unreliable, bicycling is my best choice for getting around, and I’ve got places to go.