Today is the day!
The last day I have to dread how sick I will feel.
The last morning I have to remind myself I cannot call in sick to treatment and just not go.
The last morning I have to think about how the energy I felt when I woke up will plummet to the extreme opposite in less than 6 hours.
The last morning I wake up hating the thought of today.
Today is my last day of Chemo…
But wait! Then there are the 24 rounds of radiation I still have remaining in my treatment plan…
And that’s when it hit me, I’m playing Jumanji in real life!
I play one round and am met with a challenge. I am victorious in that challenge. I get excited, maybe even celebrate. Then I progress to the next roll of the dice, where I am only met by the next challenge in the game.
For those who don’t remember, the rules of Jumanji started out something like this;
“Jumanji: a game for those who wish to find a way to leave their world behind. You roll the dice to move your token, doubles get another turn, and the first one to reach the end wins.”
The last line on the game board reads;
“Adventurers beware: do not start until you intend to finish. The exciting consequences of the game will vanish only when a player has reached Jumanji and called out its name.”
Now that this analogy has hit me, I have all intentions of advising my clan of doctors they really take the wrong approach when preparing a patient for the fight of their life. I have never been afraid to tell someone they’re doing it wrong, so why stop now?
Here is my advice to the doctors:
-When you walk into the room, and you are about to tell a patient they have cancer, bring a set of dice with you.
-look at your patient, shaking the dice in your hand and ask, “are you ready to play a game?”
-When they say “do I have a choice?”, you tell them, “no” and give them the rules.
Cancer: a game for happy people who were chosen to be warriors/fighters. For those who are now expected to face a challenge everyday while keeping a smile plastered on their face. You roll the dice to get beat up, but know you cannot be knocked down; that will mean you’re giving up. You must roll to keep moving forward. Doubles gets you another round in the boxing ring. Objective: LIVE, and achieve the title of Survivor.
Patients beware: When you start, you best be damn sure you intend to finish. The “exciting” consequences of each play in the game of Cancer will vanish only when a player has been stripped of all control, hit a level of exhaustion beyond explanation, endured sickness beyond ones belief, and finally achieve Survivor status. To conclude one must own and shout their new title from the roof tops.
I have seen many not finish this game; their journey is my drive. I currently know many battling from a few spaces back on the game board than where I stand; They are the reason I fight. I am honored to share in their courage and be their hope. I know so many standing at the finish line waiting for me and my fellow warriors to join them in sharing their title; they are my strength and my hope. I have learned no matter how much life resembles a board game, it is important to celebrate the victories along the way, no matter how big or how small they may be. I celebrate the smiles, the laughs, and every time I feel peace, love, and happiness. I celebrate anger, and that I allow myself to feel angry. I am allowed to do that. I celebrate admitting I am allowed to do that. Today is my last and final round of Chemo, and I will celebrate. I do not think I have, or will ever again, be so excited for a day/weekend of vomiting. The feeling I get when I say, “today is my last day of chemo,” is happiness I have never felt before. I cannot wait to know what it feels like to leave chemo for the last time. Such joy deserves celebration.
To celebrate today, I will roll into treatment sporting my superhero gear proudly. I will have a smile from here to Timbuktu on my face. I will puke at least a handful of times, and I will leave looking like death. Come Sunday, my Mom and Dad will be by my side to join in celebration. At 29 years old, I have all intentions of being able to still master stealing a back rub from my Dad, if not two! My Mom and I will be girly girls and get manicures and pedicures (Shhh…I think with such a reason to celebrate, I can convince my Dad to even get a Pedicure!) We will have drinks and cheers with some of the greatest supporters I am surrounded by. Head to the beach, relax together, and enjoy! Most importantly; I just get to be my parents kid for a few days. After a year like this, even at age 29; nothing sounds better.
In two and a half weeks (once my break concludes) I will roll the dice again and saddle up for my final 8 weeks in the game, 24 rounds of radiation. I will meet each day’s challenges, battle the exhaustion, and continue to focus on the hope and strength guiding me to the finish-line. It’s just one last roll of the dice…in this crazy game…with some crazy rules…
NOTE FROM PATIENT TO CANCER:
Cancer beware: When I started your little game, you’d be damned to think I wouldn’t finish. The “exciting” consequences of each play in your game absolutely will vanish…in 10 weeks! This warrior is coming for you! This warrior is 10 weeks from claiming, owning, and rocking her title; SURVIVOR!
Home stretch…I can feel it!