After two years of juggling cancer and grad school, I have now finished grad school and am left with just cancer… and a master’s degree.
I will get a job before too long. But right now, it’s noon on a Tuesday, and I don’t have much to do. After spending the last three weeks straight working 10 or more hours per day, not to mention all of the time I have spent on and stressing out about group projects and papers and presentations and learning computer programs and doing my master’s project and studying for finals over the past two years, it’s a relief to be able to just sit here with my breakfast (because I woke up late) and my tea, writing a blog post.
Grad school was hard. Really, really hard. Cancer tried to get in the way more than a few times. And I have written about it more than a few times. But thanks to some flexibility from my professors and graduate adviser, and some help from my classmates, and some support from my family and friends, and some hard work by myself, I managed to finish anyway. Because I graduated a quarter later than the rest of my classmates, there was no fanfare when I finished my last final on Friday. I zipped up my backpack, left the quiet test-taking room, said goodbye to my graduate adviser (and got confirmation that I am actually done), and walked out of the building.
I also feel a little relieved this morning for another reason. My latest scan results came back yesterday showing growth, so i’m off the drug I was on and onto the next thing. Maybe relief is a weird thing to feel after a “bad” scan, but this medication hasn’t been working all that well since I started it six months ago, so it’s a relief that the scans are finally showing it and the doctors are listening. Also, the cancer appears not to have spread.
I’m a little worried and afraid about what lies ahead. What graduate isn’t? What cancer patient isn’t? What liver isn’t?
My new treatment, whatever it ends up being, will involve some recovery time, it will involve some hospital time, whether inpatient or outpatient, it may involve a consultation abroad. I won’t have to worry about school anymore when and if I have to do these things, which is a welcome change. Despite how hard grad school was and how relived I feel to be done, I wish I was graduating from having cancer instead.