On Chemotherapy

Having Cancer and going through chemotherapy has been one of the most profound experiences of my life. It has changed me both mentally and physically.

6 Months, 24 weeks, 12 cycles. That’s what I heard the oncologist say as he recommended my chemotherapy. I already had surgery to successfully remove the tumor from my colon but he said the chemo would reduce the chances of recurrence down to 16%.

I was scared, I didn’t know what to expect other than what I had seen on television. Turns out, it wasn’t as severe as I expected but I had my share of nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and hair-loss (mine only thinned, it didn’t fall out completely).

Each chemo cycle turns out to be a battle, I get in the ring and I fight but I get knocked down, I get hit hard and then I get two weeks to recover. Then it happens again, and again, again, again, again, again, again, again, again, again, and again.

What I didn’t realize until near the end was that each recovery is a little lesser than the last, the effects of the chemo are cumulative. I keep getting beat up but the recovery doesn’t keep up until I feel like I can’t get back up again.

Then I reached the end, the last cycle. A head injury had stretched out the cycles an extra four weeks but it was finally here. The last session wasn’t any different from the prior ones, as I went through it. The nurses were just as friendly and wonderful as they had always been, the time it took to receive the treatment was the same. I had the same side effects.

Something was different once it was over though, I realized that each day afterwards as I began to feel better that there was a permanence to that feeling. I would break through the fatigue and nausea for the last time and every day I would continue to improve. That’s proving to be true, I’m still tired but each day I feel a little bit better and it’s nice to know that I don’t have to go in to get beat up yet again.

I keep thinking that this experience should serve some sort of purpose, that I haven’t gone through this without some sort of benefit (other than removing the cancer, of course) but I haven’t quite come to terms with all of that yet. There are still challenges ahead of me, scans to be sure the cancer is gone, another surgery to reverse the colostomy and recovery from same. I think that as things start to return to normal I’ll be able to put things in to a different perspective than I can do now.

Scott Blitstein @scoblitz