I had a long talk with my former brother-in-law at my nephew, his son’s, 16th birthday party. Trent, is a 31 year cancer survivor. He was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma at age 18. While he was married to my sister, of course I had asked him about his experience, but I had little understanding of what he went through. Having gone through Chemotherapy, I now understand just a little more.
When he went through Chemo, it was 1979. Absolutely no nausea meds were given. Nothing they had could control it. He vomited numerous times a day for NINE MONTHS of Chemo. The kind of Chemo he endured is no longer given it was so horrendous. But it obviously worked. He told me he would just cry out to die. The only thing the hospital gave him was peppermint and Jolly Ranchers Watermelon hard candy. He said after all these years, even the smell of those things will make him gag or throw up. Also, he said that there were many foods he could not eat for many years. After 30 years, he is just now able to eat a little cheese.
Over 90% of all men who went through the kind of Chemo he had are permanently infertile. As I watched my nephew open gifts on his 16th birthday, I realized what a tremendous gift God gave Trent all those years later when he thought he would never have any children.
As we talked about our mutual experiences of Chemotherapy, Trent said that through the years he has talked to many people to try and help them through Chemo. He said you have an immediate bond with those that have been through the experience because only they know what it is like. He said the bond is always there. I get it now.
I had a new respect for Trent. So much of what he went through when he was part of our family was not understood. I wish I would have tried harder and knew what questions to ask. But, like so many other things in life, if you haven’t experienced it, you have no way of knowing.
And I thank God for all the anti-nausea meds I had. They were worth the $100.00 per pill that some of them cost.