Wednesday, January 11, 2006

a new normal

The two or three days before Robert gets a scan done are the hardest. Every headache he gets, every sore muscle or pimple on his nose is scrutinized.
"It's nothing," he'll say, "It's not the cancer."
"I know, I know," I say with a laugh, "It wouldn't show up like that anyway."

But it's a nervous laugh, one that hides the anxiety. Robert has been on this new chemo regiment since September. It's working, we know it's working...but everytime he goes in to get a scan there are the silent whispers. What if it's not working anymore? What if his cancer cells have built a resistance? What if...

Because we have been lulled into the chemo life of existence. And in many ways, it is wonderful. On the good days, we get to go grocery shopping, talk about home renovations and book events. We forget the invisible chains of of his illness.

But on other days, the limitations are frustrating. Aside from the strict schedule and physical discomforts, Robert has had to bury his ambitions, suppress his talents and change the foundation of his identity. The path before us is so different than what we planned. Sometimes, we don't even see a path.

Yet, whenever the bitterness burns our rooted feet, I stop and try to be grateful that we are still standing. It has been two years since Robert's relapse, already a year longer than one (misinformed) doctor even gave him to live. It is more than I had hoped for at one point.

So, after we get the good news that Robert's treatment is still working and that he will be continuing on with this treatment indefinitely, we are trying to accept that this is our new normal. That the map we drew is not the road that we will be building now. That we are going to become different people than we planned. That this is our lives and it's up to us to live it.


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