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Fourth of July

Its the 4th of July and almost 11 PM . K tells me something that makes me smile and wonder.

He says ” Remember 4th of July , last year?”

4th of July 2012 .

It had been a month since I had been diagnosed with cancer. A month of docs, tests, scans, biopsies, more doctors, second third fourth fifth opinions. And 4th of July 2012 , was the day I would begin the dreaded chemo.

The day begins bright and sunny as most days in Singapore , but the inside of my head is cloudy. I cant form a coherent thought. I consider praying for something, except I am not sure what. That the chemo be easy on me? But what if that made it easy on the cancer too. No, I want the chemo to hit me (and the cancer )with everything it had. Would I be able to hold up? So in the end , I look up at the heavens and say ‘Make it okay in the end.’

The day before I had had a day surgery to get the port installed in my right fore arm , which was a very traumatic experience with a quack doc.  So in addition to the nervousness of first chemo , I am wondering if the port will work as it should.

Its 8:45 AM and K is still washing up after breafast. We are late for the 9:00 AM appt.

‘”If you are going to be late , lets not go!’ I say. I am only half-joking.

As I wait for K to get ready, I look at the sheet the doc gave me with a list of side effects I could expect . I had read it several times before , but still reading it on paper is one thing, actually facing the prospect was completely another.

So we go to the GMC. After a brief meeting , with the doc , they take me to the ‘Infusion Lounge’ . Comfy chairs, blankets, cusions, and rhythmic beeping of the regulators.

The nurses get the bright red coloured Adriamycin and the colourless Cytoxan hooking it up with saline to dilute it , and the drip starts. I watch the fluid comes slowly down through the maze of tubes and into my arm.

I looked at K. He looks terrified,  like he might pass out  any minute. He has been watching the drip come down too. He sees me looking at him and manages a brave smile. He reaches out and holds my left hand.

15 mins later, we are halfway through the infusion. I dont feel any different yet. But I need to pee. So I get up and make my way to loo, dragging the IV with me. My pee is red. This is very expected, but it takes me by surprise nonetheless.

I come back to the lounge. K is looking at me expectantly. I just nod and say ‘red pee’.  In the next 5 mins, I begin to feel the effects. My energy seems to physically seep out of my body. I start feeling tired and drowsy. When JK Rowling , wrote about the Dementors giving the Kiss of Death, she didnt know how accurately she describes the feeling of the chemo effects coming on.

Soon we are done, and I am unhooked from all the drip paraphernelia. The nurses tell me to take care cheerfully, but I dont really register. I get up and walk slowly , K holding my hand.

Back home , I curl up on the sofa.  K props me up with  cushions , a quilt, and some books and my laptop in case I want to read. But reading, thinking, browing , writing emails everything seems like too much work. I just want to sleep.

“I will remember the Fourth of July, year after year, every year, for the rest of my life ,” I promise as I drift off, weakly, but sincerely.

Its today , 4th July 2013.

My prospects that seemed so bleak, sad , unbearable even, have so dramatically changed just a year on.A recent scan found no cancer in me, I feel fit and strong and healthy, my lovely and wonderful and awesome boyfriend K and I are married, K has an awesome job that he loves and despite many challenges our love and laughter has only increased, we are looking forward to a bucket list type trip in August. Until 11 PM today I didnt even think about the  Fourth of July, last year . My fervent promise to myself  didnt last even one year, K had to remind me.

I smile now. I wish I could have known this then, could have known how much happiness, excitement, and love was coming my way. It might have made the day a little easier on me.

But C’est la Vie! Its okay in the end!