Final Chemotherapy

The nurse removes the IV from her arm, applies pressure.  She feels a familiar twinge, and soon the nurse tapes on white gauze.  Over 16 weeks 415 mg of red Adriamycin, 3950 mg Cyclophosphamide, and 1211 mg Paclitaxel have poured into her veins. Her body has been purged of disease. The nurse’s loving smile, says she is fine.  All done now.  Time to leave.

Dose dense chemotherapy they call it.  Give as much cancer poison as the body can tolerate in the shortest time.  Kill every hidden diseased cell.  A whirlwind of treatment, test and recover.  Repeat, repeat, repeat. Hair loss, nausea, fatigue and fever.  All done now. Time to walk out.

She is in complete remission.  There is no measurable disease. Stage 2 and all tests clear.  Her body is bruised but will heal. Strength will follow. Long lashes will grow.  Chemo brain will fade.  No more needles, tubes, fluids or drugs.  All done now.  Time to be on her way.

The sun has gone with the dusk.   She walks out the glass door, and it softly seals behind.  There is a slight evening cool, but she feels a deeper chill.  She stops, standing on the steps.  She is done with chemotherapy and she may leave. In front are car, road, home and family.   She senses emptiness.  Fear touches her heart.

She always knew that this moment of completion would be one of joy.  She would feel jubilation at treatment done. So, what is this?  Where hides joy?  Is she ill?  Why can’t she leave?  Why is it now, after all she has done, that a new dread holds her? How can this be fair?

The days, weeks and months have been a nightmare blur.  Treatment a torrent of doctors, therapy, X-ray, surgery and lab.  Wrapped always in side effects.  She has worked so hard to get through.  So, very hard.  Now that is gone.  She has cast free the repressive comfort of constant care.  She is alone.

Even as the light fades on the evening, so the future is in darkness.  Will the cancer return?  When?  Will there be time for her children?  Should she return to work?  Why?  Her marriage is confused.  Can she find their love again? After all that has transformed her body, her soul is different.  Somewhere, the night holds an unknown life.  Not one she asked for, but it waits.

All done now. Rejoin friends and family.  Try to find herself, perhaps build anew.  Lots of time now. Time to be on her way.  All she has left is the rest of her life.


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