I was so excited for my last session of chemotherapy. Finishing chemo meant moving forward with my life and not being a cancer patient anymore, but for a change just being good old me. I gradually went from seeing my doctor for screening every 3 months to every 6 months. At each screening session I would be examined and would have a tumor marker blood test done, which would measure my white blood cell activity. After each test I would hold my breath for the next 2 days or so until I got the results, and each time I was lucky enough to be able to breathe a huge sigh of relief and move on, knowing that I was still cancer free or in remission if you will.
I got even more excited when I started seeing hints of hair starting to push through my scalp again. I would stand in front of the mirror each morning just waiting to see the signs. As far as I was concerned it couldn’t grow back fast enough. The longer it grew, the more Jaco and I would celebrate it. It grew back a shade or two darker than it was before, but not much thicker I’m afraid. I thought this would be my ticket to ticker hair and I was bitterly disappointed. I quickly got over it though as I was so glad to still be alive and just be granted a second chance at life. I’ve always had impossibly straight hair, but was amazed when I realized that it was becoming curlier the longer it got. This of course gave the impression that I had thicker hair than I actually did have and of course I reveled in that. For the first time in my life I had hair that I could celebrate and grew it to almost half way down my back. That’s until I cut it! I looked at myself in the mirror and down at the floor in absolute dismay as I saw all my curls disappear and saw the usual straight hair reappear once again. In one cut, I lost my crowning glory and I was positively disgusted!
In the meantime I had no time to waste as I was planning birthday parties for the girls and life had to go on. At one point I decided to take some time out and went and visited my sister Karen in the UK. For the first time since being diagnosed and treated, this was finally my chance to take time out and be Sarah, not the cancer patient and breast cancer survivor. As usual I was received with open, loving arms and shown a wonderful time.
One very good thing that came from my mothers death was the fact that it brought Karen and I closer together again. We were always close growing up, but life happened and for a time we grew apart somewhat. As it was in those years I was almost too much for any of my family members to contend with, but now we had mended all the rifts and had a chance to bond and reconnect again. I think my mom was and still is smiling down from the heavens because she and her sister were always close, and she always wanted the same for Karen and I. As far back as I can remember, my mum always did her utmost to instill love and respect between Karen and I and her efforts paid off in kind in the end. I would like to think that she is taking great comfort in knowing that her death helped in healing relationships and cementing them forever.
While I was visiting in the UK, and talked, laughed and cried. We squeezed in as many of the sights and sounds of London that we could while I was there, and it was an incredibly therapeutic time for me.
For a time there, I got completely lost in being a breast cancer patient, but sometimes all one needs is to take a deep breath and a big step back to reevaluate your life and everything that it stands for. I lost myself and I went to the UK and spent time with my past…my sister, and found myself again.
When I returned home I truly hit the ground running as I practically threw clothes from one suitcase into another and without spending even 4 hours back at home again, made for the airport to board yet another airplane bound for South Africa. I thrived on that excitement. I felt alive again, like I was finally starting to live my life to the fullest again.