In the last three months, T has finished his cancer treatments. He had a final surgery to reconnect his bowel system, and he was able to 86 the colostomy bag that he had been carrying around for seven months. The ileostomy take-down surgery has a long recovery period, very long, but T has already seen improvement since the procedure in May. (If any of you are singing Bob Seger in your head right now, bonus points to you.)
We spent so much time waiting for the next steps during all of the treatments, and now we are finally at the point where all there will be are follow-up appointments. It's a wonderful, amazing feeling to finally be able to relax after fourteen months of never taking a deep breath. The last year has been so chock full of tests and appointments and surgeries; now we're looking at only four appointments a year.
We're planning a trip to Hawaii in the Fall to celebrate the demise of the cancer and to belatedly celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary. Yes, we're taking the kids with us because they deserve a vacation as much as we do, and we also invited my dad to join us as well. We went through the ordeal as a family, and I want us to unwind as a family.
I'm starting a new part-time job at the beginning of the school year. I'll be working as a University Supervisor through Purdue University; basically, I'm going to help student teachers learn how to be the best teachers they can be. I honestly never expected to go back out into the working world in any way, shape, or form. I have always been fulfilled by what I do at home, and I have never felt the need to prove anything, to myself or others, about my value as a homemaker and mother. But this opportunity fell into my lap, and after initial resistance, I decided to grab it. I can basically make my own schedule, and the majority of my work can happen while the kids are in school.
The timing was right to start doing something new. I thought I would be ready for business as usual once all of T's treatments were over, but I have found that I'm ready for change instead. People have asked what I have learned throughout this whole journey, and I don't know that I have one simple answer for that. I think, though, that I have started thinking more in terms of why not instead of why. "Change is good" has always been one of my mottos (although it makes T shudder) but it's not exactly change that appeals to me now as much as it is taking advantage of opportunities, no matter how big or how small.
It's not as dramatic as deciding to live life to the fullest, grab the brass ring, etc. I wish I could say that the last few years of cancer hullabaloo have made me appreciate every moment in life that I have, but I think that's a pretty high expectation for one person. I'm only human, and things are bound to get me down now and again. But instead of wondering if I should do something, I want to start asking myself why wouldn't I do it: small things like giving the kids ice cream before dinner and letting them stay up late, big things like a new job and a dream of starting my own business someday, or in-between things like nights out with friends. I don't want to look back and regret the things I didn't do, the places I didn't go, or the friends I didn't make because I was afraid or thought somehow I didn't deserve to do it.
There is, of course, another side to this. I also have to learn how to say no when I really don't want to do something. That is going to be difficult because I don't like saying no or letting people down. Like anything in life, there needs to be balance between what will make others happy and what will make me happy. Right now, I don't know how that balance will fit into my new viewpoint, but I'm eager to see how it's all going to work out in the end. The beauty of it all is that I have the power to choose and make my own decisions. I don't have to be perfect, and I don't have to be everything to everyone at every moment.
Now what? Now we breathe in and out; we laugh and we cry; we travel and we enjoy nights at home; we go to soccer games and we host play dates; we do what we have to do and we do what we want to do; mostly, we live and love. Beyond that, we'll just have to wait and see.