Never let it be said that I am capable of learning a lesson. Quite clearly, I'm not.
A month ago I accompanied my thirteen year old son on a field trip. Two days later, I got sick.
Yesterday, he took part in the Science Olympiad Northern California Regional Competition. The regional's were held at Sacramento State University, from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00. p.m. Team pizza party after, win or lose.
Not only did I go, I volunteered to assist at an event.
Three days after full chemo.
There is only one word for what I did yesterday, and that is endure.
I have never been known for my physical strength. I am afraid of balls hitting me (because they hurt), so I don't play sports. I was blessed with a great metabolism so exercise never became part of my life. Why move and make your muscles hurt when you can sit and read a good book? Holding my arms up to blow-dry my hair, or wearing four inch heels is about as challenging physically as I ever wanted to get. I will suffer for beauty.
And, my son.
Only those of you who are going through chemo, and especially those who are at the end, like me, can understand the physical challenges I faced yesterday. They say the effects of chemo are cumulative, and they are right. I am more debilitated than I was a month ago and am ten times worse than when I started 3 1/2 months ago.
Yet, for 11 hours I sat in the cold weather, outside, all day. I walked around a college campus to various events. I was on my feet for several hours at least, cold and shivering most of the time. Neuropathy and 60 degree temps made my hands completely numb. My feet too. My head hurt and my bones were aching, and I was nauseated.
On a normal day, getting dressed and taking a shower requires a long rest and recovery period. Yet, there I was.
By the time of the awards ceremony, I didn't think I'd make it through the presentation, much less a pizza party. My chest hurt. I was beyond weary. I was in pain. But, seeing the bright faces of the kids as their teams were called to pick up medals kept me going.
And, the thought of my son, maintaining As, participating in community service, and staying after school 2 hours a day to study for the Olympiad - for months - kept me there too. If a 13 year old can do that much, certainly, I can put up with discomfort to watch the fruits of his labor.
So, I did. I wanted to give up and go home, but I wouldn't let myself.
My son's team won, and he and 15 other kids will be going on to the State Competition in central California next month. That will be 3 weeks after my last chemo, and my plan is to feel better by then.
If I don't, it doesn't matter. I'm still going. I will still volunteer to help.
Today, I feel like a contestant on the Biggest Loser after they finished their first week on the ranch. Aching, bruised, weak, sick, damaged, wondering how I can possibly continue.
Yet, knowing I can, and will.
After seeing those talented young scientists and the camaraderie and good sportsmanship exhibited by all, win or lose, I am hopeful for the future: both theirs, yours, and mine. In that group of shining kids may be the one who solves the problem of cancer. And, I will be there to cheer them on.
My here and now
1 day ago