I had my second maintenance treatment a week ago and had a few bad days. Although I don't get out of breath as much as I did with the regular treatments, I can only work around the house about fifteen minutes at a time. I remember when I would have welcomed that.

About a month or so ago, I had been in the process of trying to find someone to take care of the yard this summer. A friend has a son who does yard work and his dad has decided to do it with him and make it a sideline business. I've been used to doing the yard work myself since Luke died, and I was shocked to learn how much it costs to have someone else do it, but I'm between a rock and a hard place right now. Before I hired them, I went to the shed one day, took out the mower and decided to mow the grass myself a little at a time. I put fresh gas in the mower, primed it and pulled the rope. Nothing happened. We've had this mower since 1999 and I have never seen it fail to start on the first try. I waited a few minutes, tried again, and finally put it away. I was so worn out I had to literally crawl up the deck steps and into the house. My friend, Susie, told me that her husband would take a look at my mower when they came to mow. I told Mr. Kyle it probably needed a spark plug or a tune-up. He pulled the rope one time and it started. For the first time since November, I realized how weak I am.

Until I got cancer, I was in good health for a woman my age. I was proud to be strong both physically and emotionally. The emotional part of being strong died with Luke. He always said I could work rings around him - and I could. I could do the work of a man most of the time, lifting and carrying heavy objects, and I was so proud of that.

My feet have been numb for a couple of months and I thought the only problem with that, other than feeling funny, was that I'd have to be careful when I cut my toenails or I'd accidentally lop off a toe. My nails now grow extremely fast. I can see the growth on a daily basis. I've maintained nice nails since I was sixteen and I'm glad they look so good now. On the way to get a shot on Monday, I had stopped for a red light and when traffic started moving again, I couldn't get the car to go any faster. I was pressing down but my foot wasn't even on the pedal and I couldn't feel it! The next day, I stepped out of my right shoe without realizing it and walked a few steps until I noticed my shoe was in the bathroom and I was in the bedroom. The doctor said the messages between my brain and my hands and feet are being interrupted by the chemo. My handwriting is terrible for several days after each treatment.

I've come to accept the fact that I'm bald but glad I don't have to shave so I guess it's a fair trade. I noticed the other night that some of my hair is growing back! I have neither eyebrows nor eyelashes but, by cracky, my mustache and goatee are coming along fine. Ah, well……

I've had a rough time since Luke died and even more so since the cancer was diagnosed. I'm thankful that I haven't had it as badly as many people in my condition. I know God has been answering my prayers and those of others. Oh, I can take whatever comes. I have to…

…but, for some reason, the worst emotional feeling I've had since the surgery is when I realized that I'm too weak to start a lawn mower.

Kathleen McCoy Eldridge© June 6, 2003 All Rights Reserved
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