The cover picture on my Facebook is a picture of a happy family. My youngest son, my husband, me, and my eldest son, taken at a concert held at an outside amphitheater last summer. It is just a few weeks before my eldest son moved away for college, and I wanted a picture of all us together, doing something we all loved - attending a hard rock concert - before he moved off and I had to adjust to being a family of three.
We are happy in this picture - although you can tell my husband is getting tired of our friend taking picture after picture with my phone. My husband and I are holding our beers and our boys are spending a few moments with the parental units before they head down to the mosh pits to enjoy the concert as teenagers are meant to - jumping to the music and banging their heads. We were so proud - we had shared our love of rock with our boys, and they embraced it fully. Party on dudes.
I have a full head of hair, and am a bit overweight, but not much - and it is concealed well by the top I'm wearing. You can't see it in my Facebook cover, but my feet are bare, as I wiggled my toes in the grass while we posed. I can still remember how it felt cool on my feet as we stood there. I can still remember telling the boys that they were to smile, and look happy - damit.
I had no idea that cancer was running rampant through my body.
I chose that picture as my cover because it is one of my favorite pictures of all of us together. I also chose it because it is one of the last really happy moments I remember from last year. Moving my son to another city to attend college was a proud moment, but full of anxiety for this mama as her first bird went out to try his wings. A few weeks after that I slowly started developing the symptoms of my cancer, and had a low level anxiety that I really had no name for. I just had a vague feeling something was off. And then in October, my world came crashing down around me.
It's been a crazy 8 months. At times it's been scary, and at others it's been uplifting. I've grown so much emotionally and spiritually. I've made new friends, and have seen others just disappear. I've also seen old friends shower me with love and support, courage and "sistah hood." I have been blessed. My marriage has reached new depths that I don't think I could have imagined before I was diagnosed. My sons have grown into young men - no longer the boys they were last summer.
We are still that same family. But we are so different now than we were last summer. I'm not sure that's a bad thing either. I think we took our lives for granted last year. Nothing is taken for granted anymore.
This week my oncologist told me that for now, he is just going to monitor me. No more treatment unless I have some kind of symptom, or my CA-125 shoots up. While I still have pleural effusions around one lung, the doctors feel it will resolve on it's own. For all intents and purposes, I am in remission.
I am free. Free of the dread that the chemo isn't working. Free of chemo every 3 weeks. Free of the nausea, and fatigue, and bowel issues. Free of the constant need to eat eat eat so I don't lose any weight.
I am free. And today, as I wear the same top that I wore in that picture, as I coordinate it with a scarf that I won't be wearing much longer, I breathe a little sigh of satisfaction.
I fought. And I won. Maybe not the war - recurrence is always looming. But I beat that bastard back.
(Don't worry. This isn't a goodbye blog by any means. There is still plenty to blog about. Including the fact that we have babies out in the boonies!!! Chicks are hatching and I'm hoping to have pictures of the babies, and the garden, and my roses, and maybe even a new family picture soon. So stay tuned!)