Today is the sixth day after my first chemotherapy session and I think that there is a chance that I may regain my normal self. The side effects of the infusion were not good at all. Luckily, Jeremy bought every single thing on the Just In Case list, so I had access to some kind of remedy.
The end of day 2 and all of day 3 were the worst. My mouth was/is foreign: nothing tastes right, there is a weird feeling, and my tongue is too big for my mouth. I have been using a saltwater mouthwash (the taste of the beach with no beach, sigh) several times per day to work on this mouth ickiness. I also have muscle and joint pain, headaches, nausea, and the most fatiguing fatigue in the history of fatigue. Surely that feeling is how dying people feel. I also have weird shooting pains–in my gums, my ears, my right knee, my lower back. Then there is the inner struggle where my body wants this poison out of me. My skin and muscles feel thick with painful fluid, like the meds are just barely sitting in under the surface of my skin and the meat of my body is trying to push it out. So strange.
In case you don’t know, the point of chemotherapy is to kill rapidly dividing cells, and cancer consists of rapidly dividing cells. The problem here is that there are other cells that rapidly divide that also get killed: like cells in the digestive tract, hair follicles, and cells in the bone marrow. Thus, the gross mouth, the hair loss, and suppressed immune system. What overwhelms me and makes me all soapboxy is the fact that with all of the technology and advances in our society, the answer to cancer is still to cut out the offending area and then kill not just the cancer cells but all the other cells too. Don’t get me wrong–I know that I am very lucky to live in this day and age. If I had been diagnosed with breast cancer 50 years ago I probably wouldn’t even survive this. Heck, even 20 years or 10 years ago I wouldn’t be so lucky.
I guess the best news is that there is a dedicated effort aimed at curing cancer, it just seems that cancer is really smart and mysterious and evil. I also sometimes think that our dedicated groups against cancer are spread a little thin. I wonder what would happen if all of the organizations aimed at research got together and joined forces? What if the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society, Stand Up 2 Cancer, Susan G. Komen, M.D. Anderson, etc., all got together and put their minds in one room? I think there are some really smart researchers and scientists out there, but it seems that cancer is so much smarter. I like to say things like “stupid cancer”, but really, I think cancer has the upper hand here.
Still, stupid cancer.
But then…there’s always this:
And if you are a poor soul who is going through chemo, here’s a helpful article from breastcancer.org: