Wednesday, January 13, 2010

War Against Cancer

Today is my last day of "normalcy" for a while.  Tomorrow I begin the grueling 18 week course of chemotherapy necessary to ensure I am not on the wrong side of the survival stats for ovarian cancer.  I bought the L-Glutamine at Lindberg yesterday.  It is supposed to help with neuropathy (including the dreaded tinnitus) and mouth sores.  The directions from the doctor's office say to start it 4 days after the chemo cycle, which makes no sense to me.  The cycle is 21 days and there are 6 of them.  I have chemo on days 1, 2 and 8.  It would make sense to me to take it on days 3-6 or 9-12 but literally after the cycle would be days 1-4.  (I had similar trouble understanding the instructions, or should I say non-instructions to apply for disability. The cover letter from HR does not spell out that the doctor needs to fill out 2 forms- one for EDD and one for HR.  Neither I nor Paul saw that there were 2 forms in the piles of documents they sent and of course we now have delayed getting in the paperwork about 2 weeks)

I am wracked with self doubt about my ability to get through the chemo.  People tell me I am strong but I am not very good about discomfort and pain.  Sometimes I get perspective.  My friend with stage 4 lung cancer is in pain all the time and manages so I should be able to manage some nausea, mouth sores and stomach problems.  I also try to find reminders that others have made it through this regimen and gotten to the other side.  So many people I know have cancer now and many of them have gotten through the harsh chemo.  Yet I worry that I am not as strong as they are, or perhaps I am more sensitive.

The other day I watched a video of Hillary Clinton at the Democratic convention in 2008  talking about the alleged advice of Harriet Tubman to "keep going" in the face of various adversities.  (Alleged because historians dispute whether Tubman ever said what is attributed to her. ).  I find the message inspiring for personal reasons as well as the political ones Clinton advocated.

I also started to see this situation as similar to those going into a war zone to fight.  You are not sure of what will happen, you know that it will be bad and possibly traumatic but you have no choice.  You have to go.  You have to fight despite the fear and uncertainty.  So I am putting on my metaphorical battle boots and picking up my imaginary weapon to head off into the field to engage in my battle against cancer.  I have to do it;  I have no choice if I want to get out alive.

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