I don’t really know what I expected to feel.
When Chris’ treatment was over.
Maybe I was expecting excitement, relief, joy, I was definitely expecting to feel something.
Instead I just felt kind of, numb.
I’d never allowed myself to think about the day his treatment would come to an end.
It had always felt so far away, untouchable, unreachable.
I was never really sure we’d get there.
I wasn’t sure if I would have managed to hold together the fragments of our family.
I wasn’t sure if we would still be smiling.
Wasn’t sure Chris would make it into 2017 with us.
Session 14, the final session of chemotherapy, arrived and finished.
His treatment was done.
He rang the bell.
The appointments, the treatment, the routine of recovery had become ingrained in our lives.
Days out, visiting friends, plans we made, all revolved around the 3 week treatment cycle.
We would no longer be bound by the constraints chemotherapy had imposed on our lives.
His consultant has told him not many people make it to the end of the treatment he had, that his prognosis last January was poor.
He had made it! He was disease, and left leg free.
The best reason to celebrate.
But I just couldn’t.
There seemed to be an unspoken assumption that our family would be able to bounce back to normality.
That cancer would now be a thing of the past, something we would never have to deal with again.
Something we could just forget about.
It just doesn’t work like that.
The re-occurrence rate for Chris’ cancer is high.
Shortly after Chris finished chemo and leading up to Christmas, his back started to hurt, really hurt. He couldn’t, still can’t, move without wincing in pain. No matter what he tried the pain wouldn’t subside.
It kick-started another round of tests and x-rays and resulted in a full body bone scan in case the pain was caused by tumours.
In case it was back.
A stark reminder that it wasn’t over.
I was back to 12 months before, hoping it wouldn’t be worst case scenario but knowing it easily could be.
Thankfully the bone scan was clear, I should have felt relieved but instead I still felt, numb.
For every win, like his, against this disease, against cancer, there is loss.
For everyone finishing treatment with battle scars for all to see, there are people just starting. Their lives changed overnight, the foundations of their family rocked as they put on a brave face and hope everything will be ok.
For every success, there are people, friends, who can no longer be treated, or didn’t make it through, or made it through once and their journeys are starting again.
These people, these situations, play on my mind and chip away at parts of my heart.
I felt guilty for even thinking about celebrating.
I didn’t want to jinx the position we currently find ourselves in.
It’s not over you see.
I’m not sure it ever will be.
There will be 3 monthly chest scans, where we’ll wait for results and hope it’s not returned. Every twinge, every ache, every bang, every bruise, we’ll wonder if it’s back.
Maybe the numbness is part of my armour now.
Maybe I’ll always feel numb when it comes to dealing with Chris’ cancer, when going to scans and follow-up appointments.
Maybe I will always be holding my breath.
If the worst does happen then I know that I can deal with whatever we might be faced with.
If I start to let myself breathe, if I let myself celebrate and it does return I’m not sure I’d be able to get through it again.
When I think of his win I am filled with love and pride at the way he remained dignified and positive throughout the worst year of his life.
When I start to feel relief, there will always be tiny voice reminding me he’s one of the lucky ones.
Reminding me that it could all change in an instant.
Maybe one day, in time, the black cloud will start to shift.
For now, I’ll embrace the numbness and keep putting off the celebrations.