Friday, October 10, 2014

Chemotherapy Leg Part 5

My tango with the Red Death has ended, and now I've moved on to Taxol, which is supposed to be a chemotherapy drug that is better tolerated than what I received during my first four treatments. It still comes with some interesting side effects, which might include tingling and numbness in my fingers and toes, along with fatigue, which I was told won't be as bad as what I've experienced, and the possibility of a rash or other type of allergic reaction. I'm not exactly jumping for joy, but if the next 12 weeks will be easier than the past 8, I will be profoundly grateful. In the mean time, we shall see. 

I've noticed over the past week or so that my chemo brain has gotten more noticeable; I feel like I have to concentrate very hard on doing things I normally take for granted. I don't feel 100 percent confident while driving, and I'm forgetting things. Moreover, I'm officially done with working for the time being, because chemo brain and writing for money don't mix. It doesn't mix well with reading, either, which is even more annoying because fall is the time when all the good fiction comes out. For now, I'm stuck with bad reality TV and a few quality shows. Could be worse; could be raining (Young Frankenstein fans should be laughing out loud or at least giggling at that one). 

The first phase of this treatment is a cocktail of a steroid I was taking in pill form, Zantac, which is an over-the-counter antacid, and Benadryl, an antihistamine. As I am attempting to write this while Taxol drips into my body, I feel slightly hung over, and in need of a nap. I still marvel at the drugs used to help offset the poison. Common over-the-counter medicine cabinet staples are ubiquitous in the world of oncology, and it's starting to remind me of new-age-y chefs and their quest to find ways to incorporate mundane ingredients to create new and exciting dishes. Chef David Chang comes to mind; he's on a never-ending journey to re-invent ramen noodles. If only a big bowl of ramen could cure what ails me...Yes, I am that into food, in case you're wondering why it keeps coming up in my posts. I have had some pretty hardcore cravings since starting chemotherapy. There might be a post to be written about all that. Stay tuned...

Pinktober is progressing, and it seems people are beginning to unpack the whole "awareness" message for what it really is. Social media is certainly helping on that front, with many articles written about the reality of where the money goes when we buy pink ribbon products, and donate to breast cancer charities. Two articles that come to mind are one about the ridiculously paltry amount of money that actually goes to research and education from the NFL's "A Crucial Catch" campaign, and the most outrageous one to date, The Susan G. Komen Foundation's "Doing Our Bit For the Cure" partnership with Baker Hughes, which is an oil drilling outfit that commissioned pink drill bits used for fracking. Many people thought the drill bit campaign was a hoax, but it does exist, much to the amazement of anyone with a brain. Fracking has serious environmental consequences that put many people in danger, and you'd be an idiot not to believe that environmental factors don't contribute to the occurrence of breast and other cancers. Why would a high-profile charitable organization like Susan G. Komen choose to partner with a company to pinkwash, of all things, drill bits? Ponderous, man...freakin' ponderous.

I'll leave you with this bit of advice: Think long and hard, and do your homework before you decide to donate to a breast cancer charity. I don't mean to sound like a broken record, but cancer is serious business. It makes many people rich, while it makes many more sick, and ultimately takes the lives of many more who succumb to it.

Somewhere along the way, we have forsaken what finding a cure really means. It's not about getting rich off good intentions; it's about helping people get through the challenge of dealing with an often fatal disease. Yes, science is finding ways to keep us alive, but there are still too many people whose bodies do not allow them to conquer the evil cells that can be relentless. No one should profit from the suffering of so many, and breast cancer should not be a capitalistic tool to churn profits for corporations throwing pink paint on anything and everything. I never thought I'd say this, but many charitable organizations are becoming as smarmy as used car lots and televangelist preachers who prey on vulnerable people who think God will help them if they open up their wallets.We need to re-engage with reality and be smart about how and where we choose to be charitable.


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