Celebrate freedom and the light at the end of the tunnel

July 4, 2014

There are a lot of reasons to celebrate over this July Fourth weekend. The love of country is probably the most prominent one, since its origins are rooted in the beginning of so many freedoms we enjoy today.

But you can also use this time to overcome the smaller battles that come with life’s challenges; you could call it a distraction from everyday bumps and bruises, or at the very least a respite from an overwhelming tragedy.

I am facing my last round of chemotherapy for ovarian cancer. I have been doing this since March, and it seems like that’s all I can remember. I can only speak for myself, as I’m not sure all cancer patients share my feelings, and that is I have a certain anxiety that I feel as I get closer to the end of that journey that has taken me through the maze of treatments. I know I will keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, will keep looking over my shoulder and will hold my breath with every blood test. That’s part of the paranoia the beast likes to leave behind.

All of this anxiety is totally unnecessary, but I’ve learned that cancer doesn’t go quietly into the night.

It leaves side effects, both physically and mentally, especially for us neurotics. We will put aside all the things we endured, the toughness, the resiliency and cave in to our weakness that negates the fact that we are strong enough to defeat such a cunning, sly enemy. It’s too good to be true. And it probably relates to any disease that hangs around enough to interfere with your day-to-day existence.

Well, now that I am nearing the finish line, I realized I’ve developed certain points of view. At least I can talk about them, which for some reason, I was reluctant to even mention the disease before I came this far. But at this time, I hate all doctors, despise all waiting rooms, hope the lab technicians fall off their chairs when they call my name (well, just a little), and wish anyone with hair will be struck by lightning (well, maybe a small bolt; after all, I’m not that mean).

For me, the actual chemo isn’t too uncomfortable; I have a port that allows medications to flow in without too much bother. It does take about six hours, though. The medical personnel are great about your care during this time.

But there is something about this infusion and the length of time it takes that necessitates you shop afterward. I know that tomorrow and the day after, I will not be able to get off the couch; OK, so I don’t need any incentive anyway to hang out all day.

Anyway, I buy things I don’t need and definitely can’t afford. Who is going to put curbs on a woman with a bald head and a scarf that I’ve never been able to get the hang of; those designer shoes will sit in the back of my closet until I come to my senses, which may take about a year, and then donate them to a shop.

At one point after one of these treatments, I bought a whole line of skin-care products. I caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror, which is a definite no-no, since anything to do with my skin had turned the dermis the magnificent color of a grey gravel driveway. I can only attribute this madness to the sorry factor in my pity party. Not even celebrities could use all this stuff in their lifetime.

I can tell you from experience that whatever higher power you believe in acts with kindness when you go through such a journey.

You hair will come back, your skin will breathe, your humor will return, your outlook will change and most of all, your soul will have new life. So no matter what your state, enjoy your July Fourth weekend. Ninety percent of life, as they say, is showing up.

  • Nancy Katz has a degree in creative writing and is the author of the book, "Notes from the Beach." She has written the column Around Town for the Cape Gazette for twenty years. Her style is satirical and deals with all aspects of living in a resort area on Delmarva.