Thursday, March 20, 2014

Ain't so bad

"How are you feeling?"
It's a question I hear fairly often nowadays, and I understand why.
After all, the potent chemotherapy I'm undergoing to fight the super-duper mystery-cancer that is rattling around in my body has got me looking both ghastly and ghostly, a fact that becomes more than clear to me every time I accidently glance into a mirror and see a pale, bald specter who looks--in my opinion--like the unfortunate love child of Tooter Turtle and that scary Lord Voldemort guy from the Harry Potter movies.  Now that I approach the six-months-of-chemotherapy mark, I realize that what they told me about it back in the beginning is probably true, as steadily and inexorably the cumulative effect of dumping powerful, cell-killing poisons into an already battling body takes its toll and leaves me feeling like I've either got a really nasty case of the flu or the kind of cataclysmic hangover that occurred the morning after the first time someone back in my college days convinced me that mixing grape juice and Everclear grain alcohol was a good, fun way to spend a Saturday night. I mean, here's what I can tell you about being sick from chemo.
It's unique.
There's nothing I can say to someone who hasn't experienced it to compare it to any other kind of sickness. Queasy. Nauseous. Achy. Weak. BLAH.
But here's something else I can tell you.
It ain't so bad, after all.
Back before I got into this pickle, if you had asked me what the worse thing would be about taking on cancer, I would have said chemotherapy. I would have said that the thing I feared more than anything else would be having to go through the whole bald/sick/pale/puny experience that is so often part of the medical treatment cancer patients face. Now, thanks to advances in medicine, many of the side effects have been greatly reduced, but frankly, it's still no trip to Disneyland.  But here's what I've got to say about that.
It's worth it.
"Chemo makes you sick, but cancer kills you," is the to-the-point comment I read in one online forum dedicated to the pros and cons of cancer treatment. And, hey, if there's one thing I've learned during this whole life-threatening experience, it's that life is entirely worth living.
It's worth it every time I talk to my sons and share a story, a joke or learn the latest about their jobs and families. It's worthwhile whenever I hear the newest adventures of my older grandchildren, or see the smiling faces of my youngest ones at breakfast or when they come home from their happy, rewarding days at Visitation School.  And it's especially fulfilling whenever she and I laugh and dream and remember and plan for a future we are absolutely determined to spend together.
Meanwhile, I'm feeling kind of yucky today. And I guess there's a pretty good chance I will feel that way again tomorrow, though I think I'm starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel.
But it ain't so bad.
Ain't so bad, after all.


  1. Chemotherapy does that. It's no wonder why people reach out to other, fairly newer cancer treatment methods such as cryo-therapies and such. But it's all in the proper medical service and supervision that is within our reach, and that you'll have constant access too, long before the initial inflictions have subsided and you'd need to do follow ups and the like.

    Aurora DX

  2. Aww, John. As always, a good thought provoking column. As Red Green would say, 'keep you stick in the water...I'm pulling for ya."