Cancer Lesson #54: Each treatment affects you differently. You may sail through your first chemo sessions with few side effects. Don’t assume this will always be the case, or you could be setting yourself up for an unpleasant surprise.
I had a variety of side effects, most of them fairly minor.
One treatment left me feeling like an elephant had taken up residence on my chest. A prescription for Nexium took care of the problem.
Another time, I was struck by fever and chills. I somehow convinced myself my temperature was lower than the number at which I was supposed to call my oncologist.
It wasn’t, but by the time I reviewed my instructions, the fever was gone.
I got used to becoming overwhelmed with sudden exhaustion when I pushed myself too far.
Like when I decided to bicycle six miles in the summer heat – three miles into town, and three miles back.
It was only six miles. Not that hard, right?
Wrong! On the way back, we had stop every five hundred yards so I could rest.
Fortunately, I didn’t pass out. At least not on that occasion.
Cancer Lesson #53: Fighting cancer doesn’t make you a saint.
Bravery involves a sacrifice to defend a principle or another person. Firefighters, police officers and soldiers exhibit this kind of courage every day.
Now that’s amazing.
But battling cancer is common sense, a clear case of self-defense. The only other option is to lie down and die – not a choice anyone in their right mind would pick.
In saying this, I’m not denigrating those who have fought this disease with fearlessness and grace (and I know there are many). And I’m not being falsely modest in confessing I wasn’t one of them. (No one who’s ever known me would accuse me of that virtue.)
I just couldn’t accept the credit others kept trying to foist on me for simply trying to stay alive when I knew they would do exactly the same if they ever – God forbid – are in this situation.
While no cancer treatment is a walk in the park, I was lucky mine wasn’t the walk through hell I expected. True, my body was scarred and weakened, but with physical therapy, I regained most of my strength and mobility. And – to my very great relief – chemo wasn’t the pukefest I dreaded.
I don’t think so.