I wanted to write about chemo before I actually take it. There is always the anticipation of something and the reality. The reality often obscures the anticipation fantasy.
I am terrified of chemo. Our culture builds up chemo to 90’s apocalyptic horror film status. It’s hard to be alive right now and not have some emotional response to the word.
Professionals along the way have tried to downplay the severity of the side effects while also making sure that I understand that the side effects can be severe, even crippling or deadly. Playing both sides of the fence. I understand the dilemma. I’m relatively young for colon cancer. I recovered from a bowel resection pretty quickly if not miraculously. It’s 2019 and chemo technology is more targeted to specific cells. I’ve already been prescribed two antiemetics that supposedly work very well to control the nausea.
Although Folfox is fairly generic, I’m sure the dosage is more controlled, but the neuropathy is a guarantee, because it kind of starts dissolving the nerve sheathing. Avastin’s side effects look horrific if you get them. Watering eyes, GI perforations, bleeding, strokes, death, dying, Trump re-elected or one of the Democrats that’s running beats him, dogs and cats living together… Don’t worry, if I do get the worst of the side effects, I’ll still be in the hospital because while unlikely they mostly happen during the first dose. So there will be plenty of professionals to confirm that I shouldn’t have taken that. When I go home, I’ll have family or friends here from Friday until Sunday (when I go back to have the pump removed), so at least there will be some adults around to observe my demise.
Seriously, terror seems to be an appropriate emotional response right now. Maybe nothing will happen. It’s just such an unknown. Maybe everything will be okay. The conversation is just so full of contradictions and disclaimers.
“You have cancer. I know you feel fine and have no symptoms since we stopped that inconvenient bleeding out of your ass. Now we’re going to make you really sick. Well not really. You’re really strong. You should be fine. Yeah you’re going to be really fucking sick. We’re going to do surgery the day before to stick a device under your skin. It’s a port for us to put toxic substances straight into your neck. Yes your neck. You’re younger than a lot of the people that have had terrible side effects. Well no there have been people your age that had these side effects. To tell the truth, we just don’t know. We’ll let you know if you’re dying after we give it to you.”
Terrified. Amused at my own terror. I’m going to do it anyway, and we’ll see what happens. Here hold my beer.