What does that word mean to me? My patients battle daily with cancer and the therapies I impose on them. Coming in for their chemotherapy; tolerating the side-effects. They grow weaker and more tired as the cycles trudge on. It’s like doing 100 miles on a bicycle ride. The first 25 miles has me saying “I can do this”, the last 25 miles I am screaming “when will this end?” That is the closest I can come to imagining what they are possibly going through.
I watched today as I told my patient “let’s take a break, a holiday; a chemotherapy holiday”.
He looked at me and said “really?”
It is always fun for me to break this type of news. It’s when I get to really say “yes, you’re done with the therapy and your tumors are stable and not growing, I do not see a reason to push this treatment any further. Take a break”. I smile ecstatic, “stay away from Mo” (that brings a laugh). “Let me see you back in 8-12 weeks”.
“Wow that long huh?” This is usually followed by a sigh of relief, and I sometimes see a small “Mo are you sure?” or the even better look “3 months away from you, I think I will miss you.”
It tickles me to send them off. They need this break. It’s what they fought for. They go back to life; to their days, it’s a road to recovery. Like the changing seasons. On therapy, it’s like autumn becomes winter, and off therapy it’s like winter wakes up to spring. I bet you cannot guess what I look forward to the most. Go on… guess?
There is a joyous moment in my heart in meeting my patients 3 months after they are done with their chemo, and it truly is that I forgot what they looked like with hair.