I had my six month post-chemo check up today. It was so exciting. As I drove up to the cancer clinic, I sat in the car and stared at the building for a few minutes thinking about all that I had been through in that building. I thought of all the times I had sat outside and cried, either from sadness, fear, or frustration. And I thought of the tears of laughter as Tess gave some parting shot over the phone to encourage me to charge into the building and take no prisoners. I thought of the many, many infusions, blood tests, radiation treatments, and doctors appointments I had sat through, and I wondered exactly how many hours I had spent in that building.

I walked into the clinic without my chemo bag and with my hair in place and wondered if anything had changed in the past six months. I noticed that the hand sanitizers were no longer just inside the doors or at the elevator. I also noted that someone had removed the well intended, but very confusing stickers from the elevator buttons. (Maybe the read my blog!) As I waited to register, I glanced around for the suggestion box that I suggested, but there was no sign of one. Maybe they lost the suggestion.

I gave the registrar a high five when I realized that they no longer require a hospital bracelet for patients. I hated wearing the bracelet when I was there. It made me feel like an inpatient. (Someone must have been listening to somebody’s suggestions. ) Just for fun, we took a new photo for my chart — this one WITH hair. I had my labs drawn and let the lab techs admire my curly hair. We caught up on the past six months and they said it was so nice to see my smile.

As I waited to see my doctor, I opened the crossword puzzle book that I had worked on during chemo. I was delighted to see that my memory has improved to the point that I could fill in so many more words in the puzzles. I’m not particularly gifted at crossword puzzles, but it was reassuring that many of the missing brain cells have returned in the past six months. Since I could never finish a crossword puzzle before chemo, it would not be fair to expect to finish one now.

My visit with the doctor was easy. We caught up on my reconstruction, travels and progress on my book. She did a quick physical and looked at my labs and called me good to go for another six months. I don’t require any additional tests or procedures. Her parting shot was a reminder that I’m over do for a colonoscopy. Super! I scheduled my one year check up for January and left the building with a big smile on my face.

So many people have asked if getting a clean report was a relief, and I have to laugh and say, “No.” I was totally confident that this would be an uneventful appointment, but there was a sense of accomplishment that another goal had been reached. I’m a survivor.