Chemotherapy began for me two days after Christmas. It is now May 12th, 3 days before my final Chemotherapy infusion. I have such mixed emotions about Chemotherapy – truly a love/hate relationship. Chemotherapy takes your life away as you know it to help you stay alive for the life you don’t know. You exist and you function, but the highly potent drugs make you forget who you were on an emotional level. At the same time, you are glad to have drugs that makes you feel so bad. You know it is killing any cancer cells in your body because you watch it kill other things!!
I have been living in an underground tunnel with very little light for 5 long months, and soon it will be time to emerge. Some other words to describe life in the tunnel are isolation, fear, pain, hurt, anger, and dread with alot of hope thrown in. It will take some adjustment as I once again come into the light. Having always been a person that tried to see the bright side of life, this living in mostly darkness has been extremely difficult. Certainly, I have lived through many a dark time in my 55 years of life, but this was very different. The darkness was more intense and penetrating with a sense of finality and urgency.
Today I attended the Making Strides for Breast Cancer event, a fundraiser for research by the American Cancer Society. A local television news reporter interviewed me. He commented that I look so healthy and vibrant he would never know I was going through Chemotherapy. I told him I am a good actress! We both laughed. And then I told him without my family and friends I could have never made it on this journey as it has been so difficult. Then I cried.
But here is the good news! Someone on the Breast Cancer Discussion Boards posed the question, knowing everything you know about Chemotherapy, would you make the same decision to go through Chemo? Almost 100% of the women responded a resounding yes, including myself. We all wanted to know that we threw everything possible at the cancer!
For me, the other things that were invaluable life lessons of Chemotherapy are the following:
1) Appreciation for family and friends
2) Clarification of relationships
3) Deeper understanding of what Cancer Patients endure
4) Emotional maturity
5) Looking at self with greater awareness and honesty
6) Increased knowledge of cancer treatments
7) Reality of the fragility of life
8) Dealing with your own mortality and preparing to die while fighting to live
9) Learning to TRUST GOD as everything else is stripped from you.
10) Appreciating each day of life
So Chemotherapy drugs – Adriamycin, Cytoxan and Taxol, thank you. It has been an encounter of a lifetime, but you have done the work you needed to do –kill cancer cells. Not an easy task, but you were up for the challenge. Will I miss you? Maybe a little. You have played an important role in my life. Forever, I will be grateful to you for extending my life. We have become friends even though I’ve said a lot of bad things about you. I respect you and admire what you do. But I sure hope I am never forced to have you visit again.