It's February of 2012. I am not sure where all the time goes, but it is sure gone. A little over a month ago we were sharing the sunshine in Hawaii with some dear friends, claiming a little recompense for a trying year. I think we were successful - I know that the warm ocean, the bicycle riding with the Hawaii Bicycle Club, and the luau were a welcome distraction from both the cancer-related knowledge that we gained and the anxious anticipations that characterized 2011. It was a hard journey.
Now I am training my body for healthy, physical challenges in the coming months. I have a number of bicycle rides planned (including my fourth Reach the Beach, and my first Tour des Chutes and Crater Lake Century). I am creating strength in my upper body that I have not felt for 25 years, to match the power and endurance of my legs. I am moving on, and moving along, in physical terms. And I am still monitoring the health of my organic systems too. We had a follow-up appointment with my oncologist, and she is very happy with the state of my bodily affairs. My CEA level - the blood test that singularly signalled the metastases to my liver - is back down to the barely detectable amounts that are characteristic of "normal" for me. I was holding my proverbial breath over the Jan. 21-22 weekend while that test was being carried out, and the phone call from my oncologist's assistant on Jan. 24th was indeed a welcome one.
I am just returned from a cancer survivor visit at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. In 2007, I went to them becuase they were leading an effort in the Pacific Northwest that was meant to ensure that cancer survivors had an integrated and managed follow-up care system. It is surprising to me to know that sometimes cancer patients do not have any kind of coordinated, post-treatment health management plan. So I was (and am) determined to not allow that ball to be dropped in my case. I spoke to a Physician's Assistant for the better part of an hour, describing my general sense of being at peace with where things are (to her repeated amazement, I might add). She wanted to hear about the pains and trials of cetuximab, and a liver resection, and all of the healing that had to happen to get to the place I am at today. She pronounced me mentally well, she laughed with me about the future, she helped me to see that I continue to do the right things, and she asked me a couple of hard questions about my understanding of the next few years. I am still mulling those questions - fodder for future blogging, no doubt. But my mental condition is also good (despite all jokes and friendly observations to the contrary).
I am moving on from another hard chapter. I am glad to be through it, though the lessons will certainly remain with me a while. And I am moving along the journey of living too. There is no obvious ending to declare, there is only patient reflection on what can only be described as an interesting life.