Two months on chemo. It's a milestone, only problem is I'm still not sure of where this road leads. On Wednesday I took another PCR test that tracks the CML at the DNA level. The clinical trial folks want to know if the free meds I’m getting are making an impact.
On a road trip I am one of those people who set the trip odometer, count the miles to my destination and make estimates for reaching certain goals/towns by a certain time. Don't think for a moment that this means I am an on time person (as most everyone reading this knows already).
Nevertheless I am a constant counter. Lili and I play 'overs and unders.' I pick a time I think we will arrive and she can take ‘over’ or ‘under.’ Rules say I must obey speed limits (a new rule) and not sway the results. We like checking the mile markers and updating our estimates (bets). It’s not a race, but we seem to find comfort and fun in knowing where we are in the journey at any given moment.
Grades are an evaluation of how much a student mastering all the coursework. Tests indicate the progress of mastery, or do they? I ‘mastered’ several subjects in college, but I’d be hard pressed to pass any of those tests now. Perhaps I was smarter in the 1980’s. Some classes I really loved and thus devoured the books, but even so my grades most often didn’t reflect my mastery of the subject. At the time I would respond by saying I didn’t master the opinions the professor wanted, but I knew the info. My bravado was surely a survival instinct under the heat of competition from very well educated classmates.
In the case of cancer, even with tons of test results I am not sure where I am at any given moment. And how do I measure myself and success vs. cancer? How can I calculate my scores versus the competition? Success of course would be a total disappearance of the disease. To be 100% cancer free. Only problem is, medical science says that’s not really possible. For a competitive gal, that translates to “the best you can expect is a C”. A prognosis of 6 years is supposed to sound good. It really doesn’t.
Several friends and family are reaching age milestones this year. I am thrilled for them since age milestones mean they reached a coveted goal – another year of life. But like my college grades, I realized that the passing of time may not be an indication of mastery, or a life well lived. Birthdays don’t count the memories, the laughter and silliness of living. Nor do they count the sleepless nights of lonely or tears of worry.
Even among cancer blogs, I started to mentally note the number of visitors to their sites (vs. mine of course). And, I began comparing the volume of comments on their entries to the number of comments on mine. I’m starting to think measurement and comparison is a form of perverse addiction akin to GPA’s, big houses, trophy spouses, and well… body part size comparisons. (I think you know what I’m talking about…)
In a moment, I was transformed from Rhonda, to Rhonda with cancer. It’s as if the odometer is spinning and flashing, and all the road signs are in some technical language I don’t understand. My ‘life’ maps all seem out of date. Everything has changed, but not in one of the many ways I had hoped. Now is the season of rewriting, recycling, or getting rid of my ‘life goals’ and just being.
I promise to keep everyone posted on the test results and new goals. How about ya’ll keep me posted on the measurements of your life? The comment section awaits…
PS. In case you are counting, this entry is 644 words.