It’s my birthday today. And while I’m quite happy, mainly due to the flood of love I’ve received from my family and friends, today is also a day shaded with sadness for me.
Five years ago today is the day Kristy started treatment for her leukemia.
Kristy talked about her ‘Day 0‘ experience yesterday over at her blog. Five years ago today was ‘Day 1’. The first of her twice-daily chemotherapy treatments.
We had planned a gala birthday party for me that day, with a ton of people coming over to our house to celebrate. Kristy even tried to get me to go ahead with the party regardless, saying she didn’t want to ruin anything.
Silly Kristy. She still feels bad about this even now. (Like most wonderful, caring people, she retains guilt for things entirely out of her control.)
There was no way that could happen. How could I have a party while my love was at a hospital having poison pumped into her veins?
We had all the explanations about what was going to happen, but we didn’t understand. Chemo treatment for leukemia is heavy, far heavier than most cancers, since the cancerous cells are completely spread out in the body and it is necessary to hit everywhere at once. We knew that she might not even notice the first treatments, that the side effects would start to present themselves for days.
I had to be there. I had to see it all for myself, had to take my part of the horror and shoulder as much of hers as I could
That day is trapped in my head. Watching the bags being attached to her IV by nurses in purple gloves (the purple ones are the strongest ones, and keep the nurses safe from the chemo drugs). Sitting and talking while we waited for the round to complete. Trying to not think beyond the now, to what might happen.
The sweetness of her nurses. The kindness of her doctor. The horror of the whole thing.
I far prefer September’s anniversary: Kristy’s ‘blood birthday’, This year will be three years since she got her bone marrow transplant; two years since the doctors infused her with stem cells from an unknown donor in the hopes it would take over and eliminate the remnants of the cancer.
But my birthday will always be a bit sad.
It’s part remembrance of the day it all began, but it’s also the very real fear of relapse. Her odds of survival are much better now than they ever were, but we both live day-to-day with a sour pit in our stomachs. A lack of trust in her health. A lack of faith that the cancer will stay away.
We live with that every day, but today it’s worse. Today it’s inescapable.