I Rang the Bell
I rang the bell yesterday. It’s kind of a big deal, this bell ringing. Ringing the bell signifies being done with a course of cancer treatment. I rang the bell.
That’s me with my oldest boy, just before I rang the bell. It was an emotional moment. As you might imagine, today is a bit anticlimactic. But allow me to back up and tell you a bit about the journey.
Cancer isn’t a one shot treatment and you’re done kind of illness. It’s a little more complicated. My first round of treatment was chemotherapy and radiation at the same time. I could have rung the bell following that. I did not. My second treatment was surgery to remove the tumor and surrounding area, in which the surgeon removed my entire rectum. I’ll live with the results of that surgery for the rest of my life. My oncologist gave me six weeks to recover from this surgery – which was major and had me in the hospital for nine days – before beginning chemo again.
This second round of chemo is, hopefully, the last. My oncologist is quite hopeful for me. And yesterday afternoon the nurses removed my chemo pump for the last time (the medication was dripped into me over the course of two days, accounting for the entire life cycle of cancer cells – I did this every two weeks for six months). So yesterday I was done with chemotherapy altogether (paws crossed!).
At that point, I was more than willing and ready to ring the bell! What bell, you ask? After all, I’d never heard of such a thing prior to my diagnosis. There’s a big brass bell hanging in the cancer treatment center, coupled with a poem. Here’s the poem one reads aloud before the ringing.
Ring this bell
Three times well
Its toll to clearly say,
My treatment’s done
This course is run
And I am on my way!
— Irve Le Moyne
And I am on my way! But here’s the deal – I’m nowhere near done with this cancer adventure. RIGHT?!? *sigh*
While I no longer have chemo to dread, I have at least another year of recovery and appointments. Scans to make sure the cancer is gone. Another colonoscopy to double check my innards. Blood work. Removing the port at some point, please God (the port is near my collar bone and allows nurses to connect the pump and draw blood without having to find a vein). Potentially another surgery (correcting a damaged nerve from the first surgery). Regaining my strength and stamina. Hopefully recovering from neuropathy (my fingers and toes are in pretty bad shape).
My point is, while treatment is over and I rang the bell signifying that, there’s still a lot to do and expect. So today is anticlimactic. I’m not bouncy-well. I sure wish. I still have at least a month before my immune system comes back on line fully, as well as strength and stamina. I’m told to expect good days and bad, with low or no energy. Like chemo. Because I overdo things.
I really really really really really want to get up from my chair, right now, and jump in my car for a road trip. I want to go Christmas shopping for my husband and kids TODAY. I want to visit friends and their dogs, bringing Jones Natural Chews and watching smiles happen. I want to go out to eat, visit with friends. I want to do all of that. Right now. And I can’t. The pump was removed just yesterday. There’s chemo in my system. I’m exhausted and want nothing more than a nap. So, while I’m officially done with treatment – and I rang the bell to let the world know – I’m really not anything like done. I don’t know whether to be happy or sad. I guess I’ll go with happy, since that’s been the theme of this cancer adventure.
One thing I’m glad for is that I’ll have some energy back before Christmas Day! We’ll be able to celebrate as a family! And that means that my dogs will celebrate with us. They’ve been an integral part of this journey, keeping me warm and entertained, as well as getting me out of my chair and out of my own head and problems. So I plan to reward them with Jones Natural Chews Canine Christmas Crunchers stockings! Lucky dogs! Your dog could be lucky, too. We’re currently hosting a giveaway for a stocking, for some lucky dog. Will it be yours? Click this sentence and follow the directions on the page to enter to win this all natural, made in the USA dog treat stocking! Your dog will love it. Naturally.
Now let me scoot. I have a nap calling my name. And a life to look forward to. Thank you for being part of my grand adventure.
Spreading the good chews …