I've started counting backwards from the end of treatment in order to provide myself with some perspective on the continuing side effects. That way, I will train myself to expect some discomfort, some neuropathy, some diarrhea, and some fatigue. I hope to then be less surprised when my body seems to betray me as it did yesterday when visiting the apple orchard with my family. A simple reaching for apples high in a tree, left me in some pain and feeling less confident about how well I was recovering.
Still, that was a minor episode in an otherwise refreshing and genuinely memorable experience with my wife and youngest son. The skies were extraordinary both yesterday and today. Bright blue skies, almost painfully bright sunlight, warm temperatures for this time of autumn, the crunch of biting into an apple only moments before having been plucked from the tree and polished on my sweatshirt to remove the remnants of pesticide, the wash of colours on the trees, especially the sumac by the roadside hills, the slow moving and blue mirror of the Grand River meandering through both the cities and the countryside, the casual, thankful conversations in the car about family traditions, Oktoberfest sausage, Cambridge's Reid's chocolates, and Kitchener's Nougat's speciality foods.
I am so grateful the eighth and final chemotherapy treatment was canceled. Otherwise, this weekend for me would be all about visits to the bathroom, sleeping the days away, and hoping for better times. Instead, my family and I are doing precisely what we want to do on the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend - enjoying each other's company, remembering past Thanksgivings, giving quiet, unmentioned thanks that I am recovering from cancer, eating all the traditional foods and treats, watching some TV, taking drives in the countryside to see the colours of autumn, walking in orchards and conservation areas, and hoping for even better times in the future.
As one person put it, life is about remembering, forgetting, and then remembering again. This Thanksgiving is special for me. It's all about remembering past Thanksgivings, forgetting, if only for a day, the anxiety of this past year, and remembering too that life is short, but can be beautiful.