So when I got home, I looked up “endurance horses,” and discovered that they run in 50 to 100-mile races, like human Iron Man racers, only without the bikes. According to my research, they run on trails, stopping for veterinary checks to make sure they’re in good enough health to finish the race.
And it got me thinking…
Around this time four years ago, I started my third of six rounds of chemotherapy — the half-way mark of treatments for the kind of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that, left untreated, will kill you in less than a year. My oncologist estimated that I’d had the tumor in my lung, pressing against my heart, for about eight months, and that I’d likely have had a heart attack before the summer was out if we hadn’t discovered that I had cancer.
“I posted the Partridge Family video of “I’ll Meet You Halfway” on her Facebook page, from one endurance horse to another.”
I’d spent the first two rounds of chemo in the hospital for a total of 15 days, with 15 mornings of watching the sun rise over the smokestacks behind Roosevelt Island on the East River, wondering how many more mornings I’d have left with my kids.
So the morning I left for my third round of chemo, my half-way mark, I took it as a sign that the deejay chose to play “I’ll Meet You Halfway” by the Partridge Family, on the car radio just as my husband and I dropped our kids off at the neighbor’s house. I mean, who plays the Partridge Family nowadays?
And I haven’t heard the song on the radio since.
I’d have three more rounds of chemo and then — surprise! — five weeks of radiation treatments. I was in it for the long haul. I had no choice but to stick it out, to endure the whole crappy thing, so that I could have many more mornings with my kids…I hoped.
So this week, when a dear friend of mine hit her half-way mark, finishing up her fourth of eight rounds of chemo, I posted the Partridge Family video of “I’ll Meet You Halfway” on her Facebook page, from one endurance horse to another. It reminded her (and quite a few of her friends, apparently) of her crush on David Cassidy back in the day. I hope it also reminded her that I’d been where she is now, and that I am cheering her on from the finish line.
But there’s a phone call that I have yet to make, one that I’ve waited the whole weekend to take on. It’s to a neighbor that I don’t know, someone with lymphoma, a mom of little kids. Another neighbor asked if it was okay if she gave her my number so we can, no doubt, talk about treatments, side effects and parenting with cancer.
“Of course,” I told her.
“Why are so many young people getting cancer around here?” she asked, as though I know the answer. I mumbled some statistics and pointed out that New Jersey has some of the highest cancer rates in the country. But I have no idea why so many of us seem to be getting cancer so young, or why we seem to hit the half-way mark of our treatments around the half-way point of our kids’ summer breaks.
That night, the mom with lymphoma called me, but I just couldn’t call her back. Of course I will. Of course, as soon as I catch my breath.