Today is also my 8th Month Anniversary, so to speak. Yeh, eight months since I was diagnosed with cancer. I can assure you all that time does seem to fly. I can remember vividly hearing my ENT say "evidence of cancer" while I was sitting in his office. Then about 30 seconds later, I was out cold.
Or perhaps...scared shitless?
How about "all of the above"!
But now, I really do feel okay. And I also know that I am damn lucky to be in the condition I'm in today.
A "Battler" from Kamloops...
I received a phone call yesterday from a fella in Kamloops, a guy I've never met who has 12 radiation sessions left in a treatment plan identical to mine. Apparently, his wife found this blog online some time ago, and I suppose they are kind of comparing notes. He's 48 years old, so it's interesting to me how much we have in common.
Same cancer; same treatment plan; same age. And unfortunately...many of the same lousy side effects.
I also spoke with his wife, who is dealing with the treatment plan in much the same way that Gay handled me. The whole conversation really kind of woke me up, and also took me back to the days in October and November when I was "enjoying" the experience associated with my medical team kicking the shit out of me.
TASTE & EATING...
After 15 radiation treatments, approximately three weeks, I could no longer taste food. The medical team told me this would happen. I didn't believe them. But when the "promise" came true, I began to pay serious attention to everything they threw my way.
Actually, the first couple of weeks of treatment were pretty easy, which included my first chemotherapy session. I remember at the time that I had really allowed myself to feel like there was absolutely nothing to all of this.
Here's a helluva topic for the dinner table, huh folks? Like, really, who talks about what we do in the "biff"?
I can guarantee you it is discussed in hockey dressing rooms in a manner that would appall most women. And, I don'y know too many guys who enjoyed this aspect of their wife's pregnancy. But it's real llife! Sure, it's probably best left alone as a private matter, but that's not going to happen here today.
In fact, let's begin with a little "Two-Minute Drill" here; one of my all-time favorite Academy Performances. It's not for the faint of heart, nor is it appropriate for those who lack a sense of humor:
After chemotherapy, I was advised that constipation is potentially a very real side effect as the drug just gets into your system and kind of takes over. When the "no more taste" issue arrived in my world, I knew I wasn't going to screw around with any risks associated with my kidneys or bowels.
I took the medications with "prevention" in mind. I did not wait until I experienced symptoms. Whether or not the medical team agreed with my actions or not...I did not care. I made the call on this one!
There is an over the counter product called "Senokot", a natural laxative recommended by the med staff. I took it religiously, one a day...not a whole whack at a time. I just wanted to be ahead of the game. And yes, sometimes I missed a day. And the odd day I probably downed a couple of these pills. But I think in retrospect, I was entitled to screw up occasionally. Just call it another "side effect"!
Everyone is different. I get that. So, what worked for me might not work for someone else. But I am damn happy I went the route I did. I guess I have always been lucky to be kind of a "regular" guy, but during treatment, a bowel movement every second day was actually a blessing.
Gay and I applied a galaxall-based creme to my neck and upper back, pretty much from day one. Again, it was a product recommended by the medical team. I probably over did it to some degree, but ultimately, I was fortunate in that I never experience significant discoloration of my skin. There was a risk of blistering and/or peeling, but I dodged each of these effects.
Hey, going hard with the application of this creme worked for me. Will it work for some one else? I don't know. But, I hope so.
After my second session, I was a mess. Yes, a complete mess. Disoriented. Angry. Nauseous. Lazy.
Basically, just a friendlier version of my real self, eh? Yeh...a real barrel of laughs!
I was bound and determined to tell the medical team that they could quite aggressively shove the third chemo session up their asses.
Umm...it didn't quite work out that way. Thankfully I somehow managed to survive it.
As I said earlier, the first couple of weeks were pretty easy, which unfortunately was kind of misleading. As easy as that period was, the two weeks after my final radiation treatment were absolutely the most excruciating time of the entire treatment. Yeh, this was when I really felt I was on my death bed. Geezuz I felt lousy...plenty worse than the guy in the video you might have watched a few minutes ago!
Problem was, I had convinced myself that right after the last radiation treatment, I was bound to start feeling better right away.
Admittedly, the medical team had shared quite a few times that the two weeks after the last radiation treatment are generally very difficult. I had listened to all of their promises intently through treatment and followed just about all of their instructions, but this is the one bit of information from them that I really did choose to ignore. Until, that is, I got knocked on my ass!
Again, everybody is different.
Maybe my situation resulted in the worst possible effects?
Maybe my issues were just "run of the mill"?
Maybe in comparison to others, my symptoms were pretty mild?
THE ADVICE COLUMNIST IN ME...
Hey "Kamloops", this is "The Blog Guy".
Strap in man! Only about four weeks to go...your treatment and first couple of weeks post-treatment.
I believe you are being treated to be cured, which I also believe means your medical team knows that you will survive this treatment. You will experience bewilderment, frustration, pain, self-pity and immense anger. But...you will survive this treatment!
I've been where you are. I wish I had a magic solution for you, but I don't.
An esteemed sports writer pal of mine signed one of his books for me a couple of weeks ago and he wrote, "we are all just day-to-day". I believe him.
But through this entire impending mess, in the short-term, no matter how difficult it might be to summon up the energy, just be very, very focused on finding a way to hug your wife!
That is where the comfort is. Today. Tomorrow. The next day. And the next...