The Cancer Game of Whack-A-Mole
A lot of you have asked me, “What are your days like?” Well, my days are unpredictable since I don’t control them. I don’t control my body; chemo controls it. No, cancer controls me and chemo is being flooded into my body to control the cancer.
The challenge with chemo is that there are numerous side-effects. Head to toe side-effects.
So my medical team anticipates those (and learns from my reactions every week) and treats them with side-effect medicine. Lots of it! Pills for nausea, behind-the-ear patches, pills for digestion issues, etc.
And then when I read the labels on each of the medicine bottles, THEY have side effects!
- “This may cause drowsiness.”
- “Care when operating a vehicle.”
- “This medicine will lower your ability to fight off infections.”
- “May cause headache.”
- “May cause constipation.”
- “May cause dizziness.”
- “This medicine may cause blurred vision.”
So what do I do? Just take my meds and roll with the punches. Oh, I layer on all kinds of other good things like acupuncture, chiropractic, strolling, juicing, eating healthy*, and napping.
*Okay, to be honest, I have helped myself to some less-healthy foods like my favorite Cold Stone Ice Cream.
The actual day of chemo is uneventful. I sit there receiving the infusion and Mathis sits in the same room reading or working and chatting with me! We have private rooms with windows, can order in food, play music and dance!
Managing my own expectations has been the biggest challenge.
I’ll sleep a good 12 hours, wake up, get dressed, and have plans for a few errands or going to the gym. But within an hour, chemo says “lie down and shut up!”
While the errands can wait, I do get down. I don’t want to be that fatigued, drugged cancer patient. So I’ve learned to do some guided meditation, listen to music, and just accept that this is a short-term thing. I count my blessings that I’m doing as well as I am through this tough chemo chapter. And, I get to celebrate that I just finished the toughest 8 weeks of chemo, by finishing a round of chemo called “A/C”. Next chemo is Taxol starting May 4 through July, which should get easier (so they say).
My family and friends have been the best!
If only every cancer patient had the kind of love I have pouring in at all times of the day!
I know I don’t say “Thank you” enough, I don’t send thank-you cards, and I don’t share how much everything you say touches my heart. But it does.
During a recent 4-day trip to Los Angeles, I saw a number of very special friends and was able to spend lots of time with Milo (my twin Tracy’s son), my mom, and Mathis, of course. Friends from high school, college, early professional years cam to visit while I was “holding court” at the Beverly Hilton while Mathis worked in L.A.
My Virginia Mason care team has also been incredible. I can reach them any time of day or night, they are helping me physically and emotionally, and they are a part of my family.
In Seattle, I love visits so just yell when it’s a good time. Don’t wait for me to call you…I don’t make too many decisions lately.
Shane is visiting from San Francisco this weekend and Chad and Milo are calling to check in all the time!
Party Time! Save the date!
We’re going to celebrate my 55th birthday and near-completion of chemo on Saturday, June 13th from 6pm – 10pm. Appropriately, we’ll be together at the American Cancer Society Relay for Life where we’ll honor cancer survivors, you – our supporters – and we’ll remember my sister Tracy and others who have left us. My team name is “Dana’s Gladiators“.
I’ll be making another announcement about this, but you can go here to do two things:
1) If you live in the Seattle area, click “join my team” to RSVP that you’ll come to the event-slash-birthday party AND you can also donate, if you wish.
2) If you don’t live in the Seattle area, then you can share your love and birthday wishes by making a donation.
If you have any questions or want to learn more about my experiences and feelings, just ask!
Love and hugs to everybody! I can’t share my gratitude enough.