Saturday, April 27, 2013
Another Chemo Grad ROCKS IT! Go Chris!
My chemo-comrad-cousin Chris (say that 3 times!) and I seem to have a lot in common these days. For one, we're clearly relatives. But this last year has brought us together in a different way - through cancer, surgeries, side effects and treatment. Me with a 3rd breast cancer diagnosis and him with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma at 15. AND, recently, we finished our last treatments on the EXACT same day - March 26th! A day to remember! Woot! Woot!
His amazing mom (my first cousin) Deidre and I ritually texted each other this past year on treatment days with pics, "Chris ROCKS!" and "Number 12 - DONE!" texts! A year of closeness, perspective and cancer cheerleading that this disease has brought on.
And while Chris and my cancer journeys have been a mix of both similarities and differences, Chris and I mostly connected through cancer comparisons. With a quick hug and a head nod, we often and quickly fell into chit chat this past year about neuropathy, numbness in our toes, what foods grossed us out, our sleeping habits and of course remedies for nausea. One time, as we were sitting in his house on the couch while our band of caregivers were chatting it up and comparing OUR stats, I leaned over and whispered "Don't you like how they all talk about us like we're not even here?" He nodded and we both chuckled. But they all needed an outlet too as Chris and I forged on with hair loss and high-fives over our new fuzzy hair growth along with treatment and testing milestones.
Chris' cancer stats still blow me away (48 rounds of chemo, 1 surgery, 17 radiation treatments) even though I was deep in my own cancer trenches and stats. Deidre and I talked for months like we were medical personnel: "What are his blood count numbers this week?" "Can he take a Zofran with some crackers and water?" "When's his PET scan?"How many days will he have for his radiation boost?" "Who's your chemo nurse today?" A new world of communication that brought us two cousins closer together after years of intermittent visits and updates through family.
We laugh at our new cancer language yet often cursed it when we were angry or frustrated. But then quickly, we reminded each other to take a deep breath to refocus ourselves on what we now call our 'gratitudes' - our health, our caregivers, our newfound perspective and treatments for a cure.
Chris also helped inspire us as usual as we watched his ongoing and quiet determination! As I struggled with fatigue and headaches, Chris quietly said he wanted to go back to school the day after his last treatment. And 2 days after his last radiation at Stanford, that's exactly what he did and showed up to baseball practice with his buddies as they watched him struggling to run around the bases. "Throw the ball down, Little Chris has no wheels!" But his first day of practice was done in usual Chris style as he played 5 innings while Deidre texted us his play-by-play action. We were all picking up our jaws as she was describing the return of Chris' 15 year old life and his favorite sport - baseball.
Oh how I sometimes wish I were a 15 year old boy!
In the meantime, Deidre, Hil and I talk endlessly about 'What now?' and how we are supposed to feel now that treatment is done. But as we have learned over the past year-and-a-half, we could all use a little 'dose of Chris' as he hops back on the train of life. A boy of few words just carrying on with his teenage life, computer gaming, going to school when he can and catching the last fly ball of a recent game for the win!
BOOYAH Chris! You're my hero!