So the big day finally arrived. I’d lie if I told you I wasn’t scared or anxious before going to my first chemotherapy session.
It’s always frightening to go to places you haven’t been before, both physically and mentally. In my mind chemo has always been one of the most horrifying situations I could imagine. Usually I try to find some angle in everything that happens to me that can transform it into something good or meaningful. This time it’s not possible. There is nothing positive whatsoever in this awful situation. But I can still be rational about it. This is something I have to do to have a better chance of not falling ill. It’s not a time to feel sorry for yourself, it’s a time to fight and be strong. This is altogether a very fascinating thing to me, that we as an animal are capable of harming ourselves for a greater good. You calmly walk into a very unpleasant situation because you know it’s the best in the long run. [Calmly probably isn’t the precise word for how I was acting, but you get the picture.]
The chemotherapy itself went pretty fast. Chemo part: Two kinds of poison through my right arm. Therapy part: nurse talking to me about medication, feelings and the treatment. Less than an hour in total. Still felt fine just after, but getting ready for the opposite; a weird state of mind to prepare yourself for getting really sick when you feel absolutely terrific. Which I actually did. I tried to build the strength for coping with the unknown; nausea, headache, not being able to walk around. But at the same time tried to not be scared of it before I knew exactly how bad it would be. Good old “prepare for the worst but hope for the best.” The evening went by without too much discomfort either. A heavy head and a little dizziness, but nothing too uncomfortable. Went to bed pretty early and slept for the whole night, with only a few breaks to take some more meds. Woke up at 9 the next day, body shaking and still slightly dizzy, but that was all.
Now I’m at day 4 and it hasn’t been worse than a medium hang over at any point so far. Thinking my party habits are paying off; hangovers are old news. Yesterday I even took my bike to the center for cancer and health care. Sensing the cold air and rain in my face I felt intense happiness and strength; I felt so alive. The fact that these first few days have been much less distressing than I expected is a relief beyond words. I know that there’s a long way to go, but now the road is a little shorter already.
I feel so lucky to live in a time and space where I’m handed this treatment free of charge. Price tag on this chemotherapy is pretty overwhelming. The medications alone cost around 70.000 € and then there’s expenses to personel, medical equipment and so much more. I don’t have to think about bills or insurance companies. Anyone can end up in this situation and the last thing you want to do is to worry about money. This is such a privilege, but for the vast majority of this world it’s not an option.
On top of this I’m stunned at how many of my friends that care for me, I feel so grateful for every single comment and contact that have been made; for everyone that asks how I’m doing, if they can help in any way and just letting me know that they are there for me. And I’m grateful of my wonderful family that have my back, support me and make me laugh when I need it. With all this support and love I feel that I can handle anything that comes my way. I feel so lucky all considered. And I think of all that are not. This world is so unfair, but I’m this context I am not the unfortunate.
2 thoughts on “Big bad chemo”
Your courage and clear, beautiful writing are very moving and mean a great deal to me. P. begins her chemo in early June – fear of the unknown is horrible and I can feel it lifting as I read. Much love, Keith
Thanks for sharing your blog. Being totally unprepared for the news that you have cancer is exactly my own experience, so I feel for you / or do I mean with you? You have a great attitude and knowing «that you just have to get through it» is the only way. Maybe we will meet in the chemo department. I start 13th June. It doesn’t do to be superstitious.