I never thought I'd feel this way. I never thought that I would use these words, and for good reason. Doctors don't use the term "remission" for brain cancer, because "it always comes back". At least that's what all of my doctors have said (minus my neurosurgeon at UCLA, I haven't heard her speak in absolutes). But today, I feel like I'm in remission, that I'm cancer free. I'm sure I still have cancer cells in my body, like we all do, but something feels different. I feel lifted, and whole, and healed. Does that seem crazy? It feels crazy, but it feels right, like I'm on the correct path with the appropriate protocol.
I don't want to jinx myself, so please knock on wood, but for the first time since diagnosis, I feel human. I feel normal. I feel like an epileptic (that may never change), but not a cancer patient. I'm continuing all of my current treatments, but now I'm doing it by choice not out of duty. And I know that this shift alone will do wonders for my psyche.
I never thought that my MRIs would get pushed out to 6 month intervals. It crossed my mind once or twice, but it was like imagining a unicorn. A wonderful thing to smile about, but not a reality. But the world tricked me, see - unicorns DO exist, and I love them!
I keep thinking about this insane tumor diagnosis and how much it has changed my life. I have gone through so many wild things, like the awake brain surgery, or the hematoma that caused major brain damage, forcing me to relearn everything from using a fork, to learning how to run again, and read again, and regain my vocabulary. There were times when I couldn't even understand concepts. My IQ was ridiculously low. I remember undergoing hours and hours of testing only to be told by one of the top neuropsychologists at University of Washington that I would never recover and read again, that I would never be capable of high level thinking or processing. I remember sitting in that same doctor's office with Dan as we went over the results, as tears streamed down my face. Man how things have changed. Not that I'm that smart, but I'm more than getting by.
So what do I do now? How do we celebrate?!? For starters, I have decided to start training for a half marathon. I haven't run a half marathon since before I was diagnosed, and have been hesitant to push myself too far because I was afraid of seizures, exhaustion, running down my immune system, elevating my blood glucose for long periods, you name it, I was scared of it. But, I was very inspired while watching the Iron Man coverage this weekend, and I reminded myself that life is short, do what you enjoy. So I'm starting with a half marathon in January, and my other goal is to do ChelanMan in July, the Olympic length triathlon. I don't know if you guys know this, but when I was diagnosed, I was supposed to participate in the Olympic ChelanMan that summer (I was diagnosed in April) but obviously, that didn't happen. I feel like things are coming back around full circle. I honestly never thought this would happen. It would have been too much to hope for - to live a normal (ish) life.
So if anyone wants to join me for ChelanMan (you've got several months to decide) please please think about it. Let's get nuts. Let's get silly and have some fun and sweat, and laugh, and feel alive.