Some time between my last go-round with chemo (the one that ended in the summer, prior to radiation and the recurrence) and my latest diagnosis, a bell was installed in the chemo room.
It's pretty nifty - when someone completes treatment, she or he rings the bell on their way out and everyone claps. It's a wonderful idea. I remember feeling after my last treatment in June that I would have liked there to be some way to mark the end and my survival.
Hearing the bell ring during my treatment on Tuesday made me happy but also a bit sad. There is unlikely to be a time when I will get to ring that bell, no triumphant moment when the cancer is behind me. My treatments will go on indefinitely and, even when I take breaks, there will likely always be more chemo on the horizon.
I've more or less come to terms with this, and the chemo regimen I'm on is so much gentler than my first experience, especially now that the Herceptin side effects are under control.
I really did get through the first go-round by counting down the cycles (and marking each with a present to myself!). And I did feel triumphant when I finished, even without a bell to ring.
And I still do. That first round of chemo was really hard. Having cancer is hard. But I'm doing OK. Much of the time I feel quite content, even happy. All in all, I think that I'm handling things really well.
One last thing: After reading yesterday's post, my spouse accused me of using my blog to solicit chocolate (actually, he said I was 'shameless'). I was doing no such thing. I swear.
However if folks are looking for fair trade chocolate (ie not blood soaked), you should check out Cocoa Camino. In Ottawa, you find it at health food stores, some grocery stores and all Bridgehead locations, but the Cocoa Camino web site can tell you where to buy their cocoa and chocolate closer to where you live.