From the first two rounds of chemotherapy I’ve been through, I’ve learned that what everyone says about it is true.
For starters, it’s unpredictable.
I can’t stand that.
Just no predicting how it’s going to affect you, my doctor said. No predicting when the side effects will begin or subside. Everyone’s reaction is different. And friends who’ve been through chemo said they couldn’t base their expectations for future rounds on how they reacted to previous treatments.
Well, this is just not acceptable.
Sally doesn’t do well when she can’t estimate possible outcomes at least five steps ahead.
She hates not knowing what to expect.
Here’s what I’ve learned so far about my response to chemo – the first week after the infusion is the most difficult. That’s when side effects hit me – upset stomach, headache, chills, cold sweats, breaking out in my mouth, fatigue – but they’ve been short-lived. And the last couple of weeks I felt increasingly better each day, such that by the time the second chemo round came due, I was feeling good.
Second round is still in week one. It’s been easier than round one in some ways, more difficult in others.
I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say my texting friends are using colorful emojis.
I don’t know if each time will be the same. Doc says there’s a cumulative effect to chemo, building up in your body over time, making this an endurance race. A race that requires managing the symptoms so that you can endure the course of treatment shown to be most effective in getting rid of my particular type of cancer.
And we’re going to get rid of the cancer.
So I’ll just have to endure the things I don’t know – not being able to predict how I’m going to feel from day to day – by focusing on the things I do know, like…
- This won’t last forever. In fact, in the whole scheme of things, it’s a very short period of time.
- My treatment is so much easier than what people with advanced, metastatic cancers have to endure. God bless them.
- My treatment is incomparable to what people had to endure five, ten, fifteen, twenty, thirty, forty years ago. I simply can’t imagine.
- I’m loved and have a lot of people I can call in the middle of the night if I need to. They’d be here in a heartbeat.
- And from experience, I know I’ve made it through hard things before.
Maybe that’s the greatest thing about getting older – being able to look back on moments that were tough, gut-wrenching and you saw no way out. Difficult times that you never thought you would survive – but you did. So now we have those experiences to draw strength from, knowing that however painful the process was, we made it through.
The experience of God walking alongside us through the messiness of this life is the truth I hang onto.
Not expecting him to remove it. Or to fix it. Or to make it easier.
To just be with me.
That’s what I’ll cling to.