(This week’s post is part of my side series covering my cancer treatments.)
On the third day after my third round of chemo, I pulled out my computer to attempt to write. (I’m a pretty determined girl.) And I sat there. I tried again the next day. Nothing. Granted, the chemo had successfully snuffed out many of my brain cells but I also couldn’t find the sense of humor I lean on to get things started. It had entered some sort of black hole. That day had not gone well and any lingering humor told me “I can’t spin this.” So, I wrote nothing at all.
The day had started when my phobia was realized again with a second allergic reaction to one of my drugs. I had truly been hopeful that morning when my doctor ordered an additional steroid to ward off the reaction. With three steroid doses in me, I was ready to take on the Hulk. Hell, I was the Hulk.
But 7 minutes after the drip started, the reaction came anyway. My husband and I were prepared this time of course, and the second I felt it coming on, I said “it’s happening” and he was instantaneously by the nurses who rushed over and I received another steroid shot to stop it.
But then, I was told that I was done with that drug. No more Paclitaxel. And this is where my mind went dark. For the first time, I started to feel sorry for myself. For the first time, I teared up during treatment. This wasn’t going as planned! I had tried so hard to wrap my head around each treatment, what was going into me, what to expect, and to just stay the course, but this was a big, fat monkey wrench. I had no idea what was next. But I have stage 3/grade 3 endometrial cancer so we needed a new plan of attack.
I still received the Carboplatin, my second chemo drug. Even with all those steroids, I went home and promptly fell asleep on the couch for an hour and a half. I was exhausted. Feeling slightly nauseous (for the first time) that night, I tried to sleep upright moving from the bed, to the couch and at some point, back to the bed.
Getting up was a challenge every morning because my stomach wasn’t sure whether it was hungry or nauseous. Trust me, you want to choose wisely. Coffee sounded horrible for days. Water didn’t taste good.
And this time? I was so weak. Half-way to the kitchen, my legs would feel like they were going to crumble beneath me and I was out of breath. I’d lean into the counter for support. This was new and I think it’s because it’s my third round and the accumulative effect is beginning to take hold.
My husband put a metal step stool in the shower so I had something to hold onto; I couldn’t trust my legs. Afterwards, I’d climb back into the recliner chair, with enormous relief, and not move for hours. I slept. I was depressed.
Then I saw a television clip of Alex Trebek sharing that he had survived his first year with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. The odds were only at 18%, so that’s a hell of an accomplishment. He’s not in the clear, but his “taking it one day at a time, with a positive attitude” message began to shake awake my own sense of positivity; my sense of humor. I laughed when he talked about chemo killing him. There’s my dark humor. I remembered that the nausea will pass. The weakness will too. They will find a new drug for me that is as effective as the old one for my particular type of cancer. (I still have three more rounds after radiation.)
This path is sure as hell not a straight one. But if I can remember to hold onto the things that get me through it when those curves come, then that’s half the battle.
For more updates on my story, please visit My Cancer Page at http://www.leavingthedooropen.com or click:
Congratulations on having the courage to write this piece, Melanie. I have never had to undergo chemo or radiation, but I remember clearly when my mom did decades ago when I was just reaching adulthood. Anyone, even non-cancer sufferers like myself, can relate to the frustration when our bodies let us down. We take them for granted and get pissed when they are not their usual dependable selves.
It’s only in the last year or so that I’ve begun to think about my mortality, realizing I’m on the downside of my life. My situation is nothing like yours, and I don’t want to compare my minor challenges to yours. What gets me feeling my usual positive mojo is when I think about all of the things I still want to do in life. This s*** is not about to get in my way!
I hope you continue to lean on your family, the Alex Trebeks of the world, and your always dependable sense of humor. There were so many times when I’d go to visit my mom at her assisted living facility that the one way I stayed sane was to laugh at some of the humorous situations that happened. While I would never make fun of someone’s dementia, how could I not smile at times? I’d take Mom out for a walk, and we’d pass one of the other residents on the way out. She would “introduce” me to her friend, never knowing her name or how this person fit into her life. We’d make some small talk, and I’d elicit a couple of smiles from both of them that made me happy. We’d come back fifteen minutes later from our walk and go through the same experience. It was like the previous conversation fifteen minutes earlier hadn’t happened for either of them. Yet, it still brought me joy watching two outgoing and friendly people connecting in the best way they could.
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Hi Pete. It had not occurred to me about all people being let down by their bodies at one time or another; I really appreciate that observation. It makes me feel better. 🙂 You and I have definitely discussed humor and it’s CRITICAL role in easing through the tough stuff. We choose to see any and all humor in an experience as it helps us cope. (I love your story about 2 people “connecting in the best way they could.” ) Sweet! But, it’s funny too. Thanks so much for your positivity!
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I find it hard to click on the like link for your post, only because it’s such a hardship which you are sharing. As always it is still beautifully written and I am in awe of you and your strength. Obviously when we chatted in your backyard and I blindly asked how you were doing I was not caught up on your posts. You so bravely said you were doing great and I totally get it and bought it, rehashing your experience really serves not positive outcome. I love where your head is at so please know I’m sending you love and hugs and I really hope we can get out for a bite when all of this is behind you. ~ Veronique
I love your attitude. Yes, you had a bad day. But you got right back on that horse and rediscovered your positivity and sense of humour. Sending you more positive vibes for your journey.
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Thank you so much Linda. This truly means a lot since I know that you work in a Cancer Wellness Centre and are well aware of these feelings. I am feeling those positive vibes. 🙂