Yes, my chemo is over. Yes, that is great. I’m glad I’m done. And I’m not really “celebrating.” The people I can “celebrate” with are the other people who have had chemo. They grasp the muted, warped celebratory nature of the end of chemo. It’s a sigh of relief, but we all know it’s not really over. It’s over for me, but my cancerbuddy is stuck at the Cancer Agency, while they pump her full of poison and try desperately to save her life. It’s over for today, but there will always be a lurking fear of recurrence or worry of a new cancer. So sure, I look forward to toasting to the end of chemo with my yoga-teacher-breast-cancer-buddy. I know that the other young people I know at Callanish who have/had cancer will totally get the complexity. I can chat with my mentor about the pending boob amputation and feel secure in her recognizing and remembering how it felt for her. I can, and do, easily reach out to the people who can relate, and I know that I am surrounded by these kinds of supportive people, spaces, and communities. Though I am awesomely supported, it doesn’t make me want to celebrate with any kind of real gusto. Chemo is over, but my cloudy family history hovers, marred by the tumultuous relationship between my aunt, my uncle, and my father. Chemo is over, but involuntary body modification that will reorganize how I think about my body, my gender, my sexuality looms. Chemo is over, but tamoxifen- the drug that will block estrogen production in my body- has yet even to begin. It’s over but not really.
So chemo is over. I want to lay in the sun forever. I want to jump in the puddles and feel the rain seep into the toes of my running shoes. I want to stop listening to the pointless chatter. I want to know what matters. It just feels like so much more matters, now. When I say more, I don’t literally mean, more. I mean bigger, I mean more expansive, I mean wider communities. It seems like what matters is not how much money you can save or spend or lose, but rather, what matters is how you use your resources to create the life you desire, to mold your home into somewhere warm and safe and comforting, to connect to the communities around you in vibrant and creative and intellectual ways. So I urge you to do what makes you feel good, to try new things and places and people without worrying what they think or how you will fare, to get outside and move. And then, to think about what matters. To make a difference in the world about something that actually matters, in your own small and joyful and stubborn ways.