In May and June, my blood tests all came back looking good. Alex and I celebrated by taking an epic road trip with the kids to Anaheim, Joshua Tree, Grand Canyon, Mammoth Lakes, and Las Vegas. We did part of old Route 66 on the way, too:
In July, my bone marrow tests came back showing no sign of leukemia and no more chromosomal abnormalities – I am officially in complete remission! The shadow lifted and the rest of our summer started feeling much more like “normal” life. The kids hung out with me and went to camps (including two sleepaways for Zoe, one of which was the incredible Camp Kesem for kids whose parents have/had cancer), friends and family visited (including the ever lovely Yune and our cousins from Maryland & Georgia), we went on some easy hikes (below are Indian Rock and Muir Woods), did our regular summer stuff in the park and at Yerba Buena Gardens, went on day trips to Santa Cruz and Napa, spent lots of time with local cousins, and dreaded the coming of school.
In August, I had my “and now the rest of your life begins” appointment with my oncologist. He reiterated that I’m cancer-free and can proceed with life as a cancer-free person (even as I write it, part of me is still ever so slightly in disbelief). There are no foods, activities, or environments that I need to seek or avoid, except that I have to be careful with sun exposure (who doesn’t?). There’s a slight risk of recurrence (boo, hiss, cross my fingers, knock on wood, throw salt) that diminishes with time, so I’ll need to have blood tests every six weeks for the next year. Then every three months for a year, then six months, then once a year. After five years, I’ll be at the same risk as everyone else. I’m looking forward to being ordinary.
Coincidentally (or not), when I got home from that appointment, my amazing friend and neighbor, Joya, presented me with an actual chain of 1,000 paper cranes that she had started folding shortly after my diagnosis and worked on throughout her pregnancy. Her husband, Austin, linked them together with fishing line. I have no words. This photo doesn’t do justice to the gorgeous origami that circles half of my living room:
With August, school started and I began easing my way back to work. Life now feels the same, but also not the same. I’m sleeping more (except tonight – it’s 3am), giving myself more time to relax and exercise (jumpstarted by the Living Strong Living Well program – thanks, Cecilie!), swimming and strength training again, and trying to be active as a habit rather than just on weekends (thanks, Kim and Holly!). I’m making dates with friends despite my natural homebody tendencies. I’m trying not to put off things that I want to do – not so much as a bucket list, but more like “why wait?”
I’m also trying to take care of things that I need to do. Like updating this blog (which I think I was avoiding because I didn’t want to jinx myself by announcing that I’m cancer-free), and writing back to friends (please forgive my extremely delayed responses!).
And now some funny photos: