Nothing is as bad as Chemo

First, let me say those of you who were looking forward to Poetry Saturday last saturday, Sorry I was super busy and didn’t think that a quick post would be acceptable. Thanks for being understanding.

Later today is my yearly oncologist appointment. I’ve been Cancer free for six years, but I’m struck how cancer still effects my life. Just this past weekend we had some friends over and we were playing a tell all game. You know those games with cards that to a normal person would be innocent. I got a card in my deck that said I’ve had a hair cut that has made me cry. I shared about cutting my hair  before chemo. In my brain I knew I would turn the jovial mood into a somber one. And the game creators had no idea that a simple question would make me worry about crying at a fun party.

I shared before about how my barometer is always nothing is bad as chemo. This is true. Even today I woke up with a sore throat and my thinking was well it’s not as bad as chemo. Chemo is disgusting and horrible but it’s also the reason I’m here today.  It’s emotional and I still have scars from chemo. Some are phyiscal, some are emotional, and some mental.

In Setpember of 2011 I finally go the diagnosis and then scheduled the mediport installition, bone marrow biospy and lung biospy that took three weeks.Then at the end of October 2011 I started chemo. I got 4 drugs and it took about 3 hours. The night before the first chemo appointment I couldn’t sleep that night. I laid in bed scared that my hair would fall out, that I would be too sick to move. That I would never get well. There were so many darkness and unknowns. Jman drove to the first appointment and my mom met us there. The room was felt like a airport waiting room, many chairs to service lots of people but trying to make it seem confortable. It smelled of rubbing alchol.

Weeks went on and as I went to chemo every other week my symptoms changed. I was nauseated the entire 6 months. Rubbing alchol made my stomach turn. My nausea medicine gave me a headache and I remember eating not because I was hungry but because I knew I couldn’t stomach a protien shake. Some of the people in my life hopefully thought that I’m on chemo which means I will lose weight. But my doctor warned against this because it would make things worst. So I ate even a little bit so I wouldn’t have to drink a protein shake.

Between chemo appointments, I needed to get my blood checked each week. I remember every morning before my blood test Jman giving me a hug glass of water and then taking a water bottle so that my blood draw would be as easy as possible.  Often he would hold my hand and make sure it wasn’t too painful. My whole body ached and my hands ached.

Chemo was a dark time, I’ve heard it described as a tunnel and until you finish it you realize that the light at the end of the tunnel was not a train. My emotions were also raw. There were moments that during cancer treatments that I thought I was in a bad dream but then chemo would happen and the pain would come back and I would wish it was a dream.

Probably the hardest part of chemo is that after 5 days I would feel better. It takes 5 days for the medicines to work their way out of my body.  Day 5 would be my appetite would return, the body aches faded, the stiffness in my hands was almost gone and I felt like myself again. Only to know that there was another chemo appointment next week.

I remember one time when I wanted to refuse to go to my appointment.  It was right around christmas and I was done. Tired, frusterated, and just feelling tired of feeling sick. Jman threatend to take me in over his shoulder. Really what got throught to me was the fact that I couldn’t imagine telling Sis that was done fighting.  In my head my husband, parents and brother would understand that I was tired and if I gave up it I wouldn’t be letting them down. But imagining telling Sis was the fire I needed to keep going.

When we were younger, Sis and I were very much into Beanie Babies. Well one day our dog Bear got into the house and Bear loved to chew up toys. As he was circling the living room he grabbed one of Sis’s beanie babies, and ripped the tag and ear. Sis cried as if someone had died, I pulled her into my lap even though she was the same size as me and rocked her. She eventually calmed down and Mother promised that she sould fix the small toy.

This image of Sis sobbing over a small toy was burned into my brain and finally that I woke up and went begrudingly to Chemo. Knowiing that I will feel sick and tired. Jman talked to my nurse and she said if I missed a chemo apointment then I would have to start all over again.

I didn’t loose my hair, which brought up another issue, I felt bad that my chemo response wasn’t as bad as everyone elses. It was weird, I should have been rejoicing for not loosing my hair instead I felt bad for those who did.

Having cancer changed my world, where like today going to the doctor is very scary. Getting blood drawn is hard too, rubbing alcohol still makes my stomach turn or anything that smells like that makes my stomach turn. I’m more aware of suffering. Family time is important. Self-care is important. There are hills and valleys and some hills are not worth fighting for. Surrounding yourself with things that make you smile is important. Laughter is important. Deep cleansing breaths and praying about everything. Life is short so grudges are not worth it. Saying thank you and I love you are important. But the most important thing I’ve learned is that God gave me this story. And even though I am super private and introverted, if God gives me the opportunity to share my story, I will.  

If you are going through Chemo or another health issue, You can do it! I have faith in you! Its hard physical, emotional, and mental but You can do it. I know you can. I’m praying for you this holiday season.

TTFN and God bless you and keep you:

Psalm 139:13-16

13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
   and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
   Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
   as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
   Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
   before a single day had passed.


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