Babies were born, ever more refugees sought safety somewhere on our globe and all kinds of other big and small moments happened the last week of August and, I (drumbeat please), Marcy A. Westerling, was graduated from the Phase One Five-Round Autologous OC-DC Vaccine treatments of my clinical trial. Graduation was an understated affair. Nothing happened. I was exhausted between the travel, chemo, vaccines and two days of visiting nonstop with my best friend from high school whom I have only seen two times since college.
Graduation was a nonevent. Imagine your last day before retiring and knowing you agreed to keep showing up to do whatever needs to be done at the job site. It’s odd but it’s just how they do it in this trial and I do not begrudge being allowed to stick around even as I await my graduation bling.
But still – I did it. Our goal was only ever to get me this far. And we did. (Thank you, mighty team with Holly at the helm!)
But before I could make some small celebration happen, I awaited the chemo malaise to lift and lift it did on Saturday morning and then, “whoa”, I was miserably sick with some secondary virus that had me tossing in my bed like the baby I truly am. I was so, so sad Day One. Even sadder Day Two and then by Day Three, the final day of Labor Day Weekend, I was pissed, sad and miserable. Really?
Now, I am not one who spent a lot of time sitting with anger when I got my diagnosis. I bypassed any, “why me?” stage and settled in to sheer terror. For the next two years, every day I would have at least one, “holy shit!” moment as I wondered how I had walked into this script of metastasized cancer but it was not a, “why me”. But I am all about the, “why me?” with this virus and every other virus that tracks me down.
I will live on chemo. I will toss my old life aside and build a new one. I will accept my reality but I will accept no more secondary pain. No to viruses and the cycle of migraines that they generate. Secondary pain is wrong. (Is anyone listening?) I don’t state this in jest but I do have an accurate sense of the degree of control I have. None.
For the most part I have been spared secondary illness since diagnosis but I have not done well this past summer. I wear a mask on the plane. I get acupuncture and shiatsu twice/week. I avoid shaking hands and babies and still, it seems, I will get sick and that is the terrain of life. My pledge is to stay unreasonably grumpy over every secondary illness I get. It is just more than I can sign on too.