Ahhhh. Can you feel it? The heat of summer has slipped away, only to return for a last hurrah. The welcome warmth after a cold spell. Sun. Heat. Humidity. Solar radiation. People smile and say “Summer is finally here!” I nod and sniffle with my hayfever and scratch my wig covered head. Humidity makes me uncomfortable and sweat makes the wig itchy. While I am thankful it wasn’t a super hot summer, I know it disappointed many folks with the heavy rains and lack of scorchers. Our place gets unbearably hot and the thought of sweltering through chemo sickness terrified me.
The Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) is the harbinger of the end of summer … and that was a month ago. The nights are quieter as everyone settles into their school routines, our home included. The streets – once full of noise as parties spilled out onto the sidewalk – are tucked into bed at 9 pm on a school night. The days are shorter and the sun sets so early. Some leaves have already changed colour and fallen to the ground. You never know what to wear. Start with a jacket and end up peeling off layers by noon.
The traffic of tourists has dimmed. I can easily find parking by the shore and the lakefront is less crowded. I slip the leashes off the dogs and let them run and splash in the water. They chase sticks and eachother all morning. When I put their leashes back on, Carly tugs to the left, hoping that we can walk further rather than head back to the car. Her big brown eyes glance up at me, hoping I will say yes. How can I not? This wonderful soul has been by my side for over seven years.
Downtown markets are easier to manoever. Impromptu day trips to Prince Edward County are delightfully lazy and unhurried. Trail hikes are more enjoyable. Time to take advantage of the end-of-season sales and buy that kayak I have been eyeing.
While I love the changing seasons, I am not quite ready to let go of summer’s fun.
These are the nights that the Firefighter and I like to just sit outside and enjoy the evening. The crickets still chirp. A few nights ago we were invited over to a friend’s backyard for dinner. Patio lantern lights. Soft laughter in the night air. Casual comraderie as we snacked on delicious starters (the men were hungry) … A tower of loaded nacho chips and vegetable crudites with dip with local craft beer. Brad* traded spots with Jenna* at the BBQ and sizzled our steaks to perfection. Potato slices were roasted in foil with rosemary and butter. A spinach salad with a hot bacon dressing on the side.
Our hosts had one of those mesmerizing blue coloured glass firepits on their deck. We sat around it chattering about our summers. They listened with empathy as I spoke about mine and my journey with Triple Negative Breast Cancer.
I can finally look back and relax … at least a little. The worst is over. Tomorrow I see my Radiation Oncologist and prepare for the next and final leg of my treatment journey. Radiation isn’t a walk in the park. I will be measured, scanned, maybe encased in a breast cast and get my very first tattoos. Eight tats in all … tiny blue markers to help them direct the radiation beam with precision each time. They will radiate my whole right breast for 14-21 consecutive business days, then they will focus the high dose radiation around the tumour area. The worst side effects with radiation are burns and fatigue.
My hair has grown back about an inch, but there is no pigment. It’s pure white and baby fine, like Storm. My eyebrows and eyelashes were the last to go. I have decided to stop wearning false eyelashes so the glue doesn’t pull out the new growth. I had dinner with a friend last week who commentd on my “cancer face”. She said I looked more like a sweet cherub than an ill patient. The only reminder of my PICC line is a small pimple-like mark on my arm. Time fades all wounds if you let it. We are just never quite the same.
I can draw on eyebrows, but some days they are a little crooked. Most cosmetic clinics won’t touch me for six months post treatment, so I am not sure I can do microblading. I did find a doctor who will prescribe Latisse for me … $200/bottle to jump start my lash growth. I am not sure it’s worth the cost.
Brock pulled me close as I shivered while I reminisced about the summer treatment. I ran my hand down my bare leg, swatting the mosquitos.
“How can they still like me after chemo?” I whine. Seriously. I’ve had toxic cocktails pumped through my bloodstream for months and the little vampires still bit me all summer. Do they die when they get my chemo? Will they glow in the dark if they chomp on my radiated bloodstream?
“I still like to bite you” Brock replied. “Besides, you won’t remember with your chemobrain!”.
Thanks Babe. He’s so sweet and tender on moment, then gruff and big bear the next. I do feel safe for now while tucked into his side. His arm around me. He handed me food like I was a baby bird to be fed.
I smiled and kissed his head as I got up to help Jenna clear the dishes into the house. We brought out all the lip-smacking ingredients for s’mores. Graham wafer cookies. Thick slabs of chocolate. Huge puffy marshmallows. And long forks. I know I told you the story of me stabbing my right breast with a marshmallow fork, but I can’t remember which post it is in! I will find it and link later.
I am happy and content.
All is right in my little world. Looking forward to my next step.
One step at a time,
*Name(s) changed to protect the guilty and the innocent!