There is a lake in Jasper at the base of a mountain . . . well, not quite the base. If you are in a car, it’s an easy uphill drive along a winding road to reach beautiful water that reflects Pyramid Mountain above. And at that water you can rent canoes, take them out and paddle – quietly, peacefully, happily – to your heart’s delight.
Nearly ten years ago, while living in Jasper, I had that pleasure. But I didn’t have a car. Instead, a group of friends and I set out on our bikes to peddle to the base of this mountain, where the lake waited with the canoes on shore.
Jasper is high, and biking up a mountain makes it even higher. To reach that water meant physical turmoil. Our group of friends became separated – those who were stronger pushed ahead, those out of practise fell behind.
I fell behind: panting, swearing, aching. Cars whizzed past, and I considered sticking out a thumb, but didn’t because it was too embarrassing. Instead I simlpy pressed onward despite thoughts of giving up, because I knew – I just knew – that canoeing in that beautiful water, out in the open air, laughing and cruising, and being part of that incredible grandness was going to be worth it.
So bit by bit, with frequent breakdowns of determination and the occasional ten minute rest-stops . . . I finally made it to the base of that mountain. And my word, it was good.
It was so very, very good.
I wish that at the end of this chemotherapy there was something like that waiting. My pink mountain with the canoes all tied up. Actually, there is – another chance, a plane ticket home, a break from this crap. But right now I’m struggling uphill, and it’s getting pretty damn difficult.
Bright side: I received the expensive drug, and this weekend has been much better. Apart from Friday the nausea was little to gone, which makes the whole thing easier. Instead of suffering from illness, I slept away the weekend. This was a positive experience . . . and yet I can’t help feeling down. Thinking about all the treatments to come – all the needles and drugs – it’s like biking up that mountain and turning the corner, only to see more of that uphill climb.
I know this will be over in a matter of months. This part of the cancer ride will come and go, and I pray it’ll never be needed again. Somewhere ahead is that symbolic lake, though I do wish there was an easier way.
The weekend went well. That is what matters. But I feel this is a greater challenge beyond ticking off the treatments, and unfortunately there isn’t much choice . . . I just need to keep on biking.