Well I made it back from Florida in one piece. From the moment I got off the plane until now, my life has been crazy busy. The times I have to finally sit down and do nothing is usually at night and these days I’m falling asleep on the couch super early.
Florida was ever better than I anticipated. The days were filled with staying at the horse show all day: riding, grooming, grazing, and way too much shopping. You know you’ve been to one store too much when they know you on a first name basis. It was nice to finally do something normal and feel normal. The only thing I had to think about was riding and helping take care of Joe. Every time we walked into the ring, we learned something new and each time we showed, we got better and better. I got more confident jumping and being in the show ring. We even came home with ribbons. Each time they called my name for placing, I had a look on my face that said, “Wait who?” Plus, Joe was in his full element. He loved being in the warmer temperatures and hanging at a horse show for 3 weeks. Thanks to the big blizzard he got to stay an extra week while I had to be back for scans.
I finally got to feel like a normal 26-year old. I spent my birthday at the show with Joe and my barn family. We got to jump and be in the Florida sunshine on my birthday. Don’t worry, I made sure to protect my skin from the sun since I’m super sensitive now. I wore my awesome sun shirts and got a couple more at the show. I have a new nickname now that select groups of people at the barn call me. One night we went out to dinner after being at the show all day. Every time I asked the waitress for something she would say, “sure baby doll”. When she walked away, our table erupted in laughter because I’m no baby doll. Finally, my mom asked the waitress how old she thought that I was. She answered, “She looks like she’s 15.” Needless to say the waitress got that deer in the headlights look when we told her I was 26. For my birthday I was given a saddle pad and t-shirt that both say “Baby Doll” on them as a reminder of that lovely nickname. It was a great 2 weeks spent with my barn family.
Thanks to the impending blizzard I immediately had to go to the hospital for my CT scans when we got home. Later that week I met with my doctor and I was scheduled to start chemo the following week. I elected to do my chemo at home this round. I wore a pump that was stashed in a lovely fanny pack. I carried a pump that connected my port to my chemo for 24 hours. Instead of being in the hospital I got to stay on the couch in the comfort of my home. Once the 24 hours were up, I was disconnected and went on to my usual post chemo routine. I got fluids and rested on the couch because I typically feel like shit. Although I missed my nurses on BP8, it was nice to be home and be with my dogs.
I still get asked the age old question, “What are you up to now?”. My standard response is that I am still on active treatment and in between rounds of chemo I spend my time riding or traveling. Then after saying that, the next question that follows is, “Well how many treatments do you have left?” I don’t have a clear answer for that. Unlike most cancers I was never given a number of treatments before I would be done. Yes, I do get breaks when I ask for them or when my body needs to reenergize. As of right now, there is no cure for my specific type of cancer. It’s more a matter of keeping my tumors at a manageable size and treating it more like a chronic illness.
I think that’s what scares people the most when they ask me how I am doing. I can see the dread in their faces and the pity when they ask how I feel. It is as if they are afraid of how I will answer and they won’t know how to react. I understand cancer is a tricky business. However, the more you don’t ask, the harder it is for me to fill in the blanks for you. For example, if the last time you reached out to me was after the tumor was removed from the back of my knee, then boy do we have a lot to catch up on. I keep a cliff notes version in my back pocket for those days. I understand people fall out of touch and we all move on with our lives. I’ve certainly had my share of fair weather friends. At some point you realize that you need to forget the ones that have forgotten you.
For today I know that I am going to continue on this chemo for another round. As usual, my scans will determine my next steps. Those pesky things certainly have a way of controlling my life some days. At least I have gotten to know the CT techs really well and we have our fair share of laughs on scan days. I am trying to plan my schedule around horse shows this summer and vacations, but we all know that could change in a drop of a hat. You just have to learn to go with the flow and move with the ups and downs, the good and the bad.