Do you like summer? Are you ready for your kids to go back to school, or could you use a few more months? I love summers, but my past few have been a little rough. The summer prior to my diagnosis was the best summer of my life. Last summer was the worst; starting with the death of my father and ending with a scan indicating progression in my cancer.
This summer- well, I’m dubbing this summer, “Summer, Interrupted.” Interrupted, because I’m at the whim of this beastly cancer, and I’ve learned to plan my life in 3 month sections. When I go beyond that, I understand that these plans must be flexible, so I buy travel insurance and don’t attach myself too much to that future.
I had a summer plan, and it was bombed by the news of cancer progression and new chemotherapy.
This new chemotherapy, Ixempra, is known as the, “Chemo Beast.” It’s a chemotherapy used specifically for metastatic breast cancer or locally advanced breast cancer and I’ve heard it referred to as the chemo used, “When all else fails.” Scary sounding, right? My docs really want to get this liver lesion under control. This chemo is the WORST chemo I’ve had yet. I am essentially on my ass for 5 full days after each dosage. I can barely get myself a drink of water. Writing email is a hardship. So, subsequently, all of my “summer fun” has to be crammed into the weeks around my treatments. Treatment happens once every three weeks. When I’m at home, I’m in recovery mode, gearing up for my next adventure.
Those adventures, though, that’s where summer lives. Summer is creemees with sprinkles in your schools colors on the last day of school. Summer is camping in the woods with friends and no cell service and swimming even though it’s not that warm. It’s fishing and continually getting your line caught in the same tree, but not moving from that spot. It’s watching the town Fourth of July parade from my front porch and having an epic open house chicken barbecue that follows.
Summer lives in the week I spent in Cape Cod with my family, slurping steamers on our private picnic table next to our tiny, perfect cabin. It lives in dragging my kids to summer concerts, even if one falls asleep curled in a camping chair. It’s celebrating my nephew’s 4th birthday on a perfect lakeside day, followed by a lobster dinner. Summer is maple creemees too late in the night and then begging my over-sugared, kind of grubby, overtired children to just go to sleep. And spending the weekend at Far Rockaway Beach in the Bronx celebrating my baby sister’s bachelorette party and learning to surf with the hottest surf instructor in the history of the world.
Summer is FINALLY, after months of waiting, redeeming my daughter’s Christmas present by accompanying her to her first HUGE pop concert-Taylor Swift- and having a sweet girls weekend with her friends and mine! It’s paddleboarding her around on a lake and then having her return the favor. Summer is taking my son mini-golfing and to the batting cages. It’s eating dinner on the porch every night. Summer is going on a girls trip we have tried to coordinate for almost a year, and then having it rain all day. It’s all okay because we played dominoes and laughed until we cried instead.
And for the record, Alice’s version of Celebrity is the best.
The last weeks of summer will be dedicated to watching my baby sister bloom as a bride. Sending my kids to Camp Kesem (the best week of the year for them) while I put my game face on and try not to think of cancer. It is getting pedicures and facials and finishing last minute crafts. It’s for making sure my dress fits and squeezing myself into Spanks (for the love of god). It’s for peace and partying and princesses. Summer is a love fest! It’s for fun and love and family and freedom and…