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Article Archive >> Community

Daze of My Life: Chemo-Cocktailing at the Depot

Daze of My Life
Chemo-Cocktailing at the Depot

Now that the cancer cat is out of the bag I suppose it's reasonable to keep my readership (what there is of it) apprised of goings on. Today, as I sit and write, I am being infused (the medical profession has its own fancy word for chemotherapy) and attempting to write while I am being treated (it's not painful).
This is chemo-cocktail number two of four (or six) total; a final determination has yet to be made; the treatment is sort of fluid (no pun intended), depending on how I tolerate it. Due to a "normal" brain scan (thank God!) indicating that the cancer had not spread to my brain, my oncologist was able to add a third chemical to my intravenous mix, a chemical called Avastin, known for its effectiveness in fighting brain cancer. So, here I sit, comfortable in a barcalounger-type, blue recliner watching the I.V. drip its magic potion (some might characterize it as poison) directly into my vein in order to kill the cancer cells, cut off the blood supply to the targeted tumors - hopefully shrinking them in the process; in this context, shrinkage is the hoped for result) and not side-effect me so uncomfortably that we have to modify the treatment. After all, it's the tumors we're after, not my comfort. But my body has to cooperate, and that's not exactly in the patient's control.
At this very moment, control is what I don't have. Nor, according to my oncologist, do I have a lot of time. But that can change, results both good and bad can alter the present and as a result, most definitely alter the future. Medicine/treatment is not arithmetic, it's not an exact science; certainly what my doctor says is a bit more than a presumption but it's not necessarily so simply because he says it is. As a patient, I have some say. And even though I'm sitting down at this very moment, it doesn't mean I'm going to take the treatment sitting down, if you know what I mean.
However, at this early stage (of the treatment, not the diagnosis), I'm a bit unclear how to proceed. As you can imagine, after receiving a diagnosis of this severity, your priorities change. People, places, things that mattered previously don't seem to matter nearly as much. It's not so much apathy as it is antipathy. But that's unhelpful, and counterproductive even, so far as affecting the cancer. "Live, love, laugh" is a mantra that I've been encouraged to embrace; as is having a positive mental attitude/approach, both of which are proven, anecdotally speaking, cancer fighters. And thanks to my parents, I have them both. I have to admit though, a diagnosis of this kind will shake you to the core.
My challenge is to plan for the worst, yet live for the best. And it remains a difficult pursuit. It's as if I'm serving two masters, each requiring different types of loyalties. Loyalties that, given my abbreviated life expectancy, are tested on a daily basis. How do I plan for a future that's no longer guaranteed and not have it impact my present?
Each day that I wake up, in relative good health, it becomes more normal, or should I be honest and call it, "the new normal." Because that's what my life has to become, as in doing as many of the things I used to do (health considerations notwithstanding) before. Sure, I have some issues, but it's nothing I can't handle. And the longer I continue to have these issues, the better I'm able to adapt. Moreover, each day, I'm learning more about my situation and the alternatives (some non-traditional) that are available to me.
Chemotherapy is the beginning, but it doesn't have to be the end.

Kenneth B. Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.

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