Thursday, December 18, 2014

Chemotherapy Leg Part 15

I think I've reached the phase of chemo where I just don't give a damn about what I say or do. Hence the image of Britney Spears's first album to signify that I have only one treatment left after today. Actually, Brit is an appropriate metaphor for this experience because a few years after this album was released, she lost her mind and shaved her head. That's pretty much what's happened to me over these past few months.

I have a confession to share about the chemotherapy experience: No one, and I mean that literally, can tell you exactly what it will feel like and how horrific it will be. It is an experience that you cannot begin to imagine until you go through it yourself. Any number of well-meaning doctors and nurses will tell you, "Oh, it's not that bad", but the truth is, it is that bad.

Before I had my mastectomy, I admitted to my surgeon that the thing that frightened me the most was undergoing general anesthesia, since I'd never experienced it before. He told me that he'd never been put under himself. My reaction was, "Are you kidding me? Don't you people practice on each other in med school? Don't the anesthesiologists and the surgeons put each other under and remove superfluous organs like tonsils, appendixes, and spleens?" He laughed at me and explained that that's not how it works. I knew that, but I think it should be the way it works. If you're going to cut off people's body parts, you should have some idea how it feels to be on the receiving end of a scalpel. The same goes for chemotherapy; not that I'm wishing cancer on the medical professionals who have taken such great care of me, but they should at least have some idea how it feels to be pumped full of toxins and how they make you feel. I mean, servers eat the food at the restaurants they work in so they know what to recommend; oncology nurses and doctors should undergo at least one treatment so they have some idea what the patient is likely to experience. That way they can say, "Yeah, that sucks; I totally understand what you're going through." Or, "I can't recommend Adriamycin; the stuff will drain the life right out of you."

I realize that last paragraph is completely ridiculous. You have to understand that chemotherapy is cumulative. I've said that before and it bears repeating because the longer it goes on, the more your brain malfunctions and you start to think really bizarre thoughts. If there were television commercials for chemotherapy drugs, the side effect list would be enormous, and the first symptoms you'd be warned about are insane thoughts and crazy talk. I guess the same could be said about celebrity. Let's not forget that Britney Spears volunteered for the job; I didn't ask for cancer.

So, one week left. After that, I really hope my brain returns to normal, along with the rest of me. Sixteen weeks of this shit is just about all I can handle. At least I don't have to shave my head.



  1. My oncologist discovered that he had leukemia during medical school and then underwent 3 years of chemotherapy. He's pretty freaking great at understanding what I'm going through.

    Chemo is pretty much the worst thing anyone could ever have to go through. Not because it's so bad. In comparison to other things, I think it's probably not as bad as the flu can be. What makes chemo suck so much is that you feel like crap for months and months at a time.

    Stay strong. :)