Graduation, and a New Year

“Congratulations! You graduated! See you in six months.”

My oncologist shook my hand.

That was the first week in August. I’m done with chemo, done with surgery, done with radiation, done with constant check-ups and lab tests. Done, done, done except for six-month visits alternating between my surgeon and my oncologist. Because of my history (two bouts of breast cancer, the last one very aggressive) my doctors will follow up every six months for the next ten years.

I’m in full remission. I’m finished with treatments and drugs, although still dealing with a few side effects (which I’ll write about in my next two posts). I’m regaining my energy.

I graduated. I survived. I’m grateful and humbled.

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Three weeks ago was Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Liturgy says that in the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, God decides “who shall live, and who shall die; who shall be healthy and who shall be sick…”

A year ago I was recovering from surgery, in pain and on chemo. I’m not one for pity parties, but it felt like I’d be sick and in treatment forever. I was so tired. I wanted to wake up from this bad dream and be in a new life.

Who shall live and who shall die? The questions were too abstract. I detached myself from reality so I wouldn’t have to think about it.

Who shall be healthy and who shall be sick? I have no idea. I don’t decide these things.

I was overwhelmed.

And now I’m not — although I’m careful not to take on too many chores or activities that might overwhelm me.

I’m resuming life, and most days I feel good. It’s a new year, and I have plans.