The Pros and Cons of Chemo..

… and, yes there are some pros..

The summer I was 39 I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer.  It was an aggressive form of cancer, in the duct and it went to my first lymph node — thus the chemo.  So, after a lumpectomy and then a mastectomy (in the same week…. we got good at doing the hospital), and about a month of recovery, I started chemo.

da da daaaaaaaaaaa — CHEMO… the big C after the HUGE C diagnosis….. 

We’ve all seen chemo on TV…people spend most of their time puking, they’re pale, hairless and listless.  They’re debilitated and they sit around being sick all the time…. They moan about the cure being worse than the disease and the doctors say things like, “we need to nearly kill the patient to save them”..  To say it was scary is an understatement… I was terrified. 

Then I took the chemo class, had two meetings with my oncologist and his nurse… and the only slightly reassuring part of all of those meetings was my oncologist’s assurances that we’d control my nausea… I didn’t know then that I could trust him. 

Tonight, just over two years since my last chemo, I can think about the pros and cons…

Pro:  Avocados — they taste amazing — granted, I couldn’t eat something spicy, like pepper… but I could taste every subtle flavor in that wonderous fruit.

Con:  The day I lost my hair — it sucked… and, it pretty much happened in a day. 

Pro:  Being bald is convenient… no hair products, no washing, styling or cutting hair… After a swim my hair didn’t hold onto the chlorine smell.  Really,it wouldn’t be all bad to be as bald as Andy.

Con:  Being called sir — and looking more like Alfred Hitchcock than I’d like. 

Pro:  You lose all of your hair — no shaving, waxing, plucking or anything…. yes, I lost it everywhere.  If I wasn’t exhausted, I’d have felt kinda naughty.

Con:  Fatigue — it’s the main symptom I had.  By the end of treatment I was exhausted.

Pro:  Nobody batted an eye when I went home in the middle of the day to eat a corn dog and take a nap.  Naps are good. 

Con:  People say stupid shit to you like, “you’re a survivor”, “so brave”  and my favorite.. “my _______  died of breast cancer”… ummm  I haven’t survived yet, I’m not just gonna go home, give up and die at 39 — and, don’t tell me about people dying… dumb ass…

Pro:  People do really nice things for you — service in restaurants is really good and I even got better room rates at hotels..

Con:  you can die… yea, it’s scary…

Pro:  I have an amazing oncologist — and I know that if  (knock on wood) I need more treatment, he’ll be there for me.

In many ways having cancer changed my view of life and the world.  It’s freeing to face something that others fear.  It’s empowering to know that you can take treatments others refuse.  It’s amazing to see how short and precious life really is — and to decide to live it. 

If (God/The Flying Spaghetti Monster forbid) I had to do it all again, I would… and I’d eat more avocados.

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2 Responses

  1. I think it is amazing that you were able to write this post – awesome that you can find some pros. Next time I eat an avacado I will definitely be thinking about you and your fight!

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