I attended a Living with Chemotherapy class yesterday. The brochures and data sheets were nicely arranged in a folder and your chemotherapy plan (dot matrix printer with handwritten – legible? – drug names and frequency time span was included.
There were around 20 attendees – all ages, both sexes and their caregivers. The presenter was an active woman who told us she had cancer 10 years ago and then she had twins. She was a model of good health and top spirits. All of us had different cancers and different plans – but the same class. It was two hours long in a cold room.
I learned a lot more than I wanted to know and actually that was good. I want to know what the big machine has planned for all of us. They were emphasizing that they now have drugs to “manage” the common symptoms – I won’t repeat them here because you don’t the scary list. Chemo is highly specialized and given in a strict delivery method. I’ve heard stories from, “it was just uncomfortable” to, “so many side effects that quality of life was not good.” I met survivors – I know survivors. I was amazed at the delivery of all this data on chemo. I knew cancer was big – and it has a big business – everything from wigs, massages and payment options. And there are companies willing to offer the drugs for free if you qualify. The hospital had a social worker give what she can provide, transportation, caregivers, financial info, etc. So much information.
As my cancer goes – not much data is available. If you have breast cancer or liver cancer, there are past cases that define the procedures. Mine was taken out of me through surgery. My lymph nodes were benign. My cancer is highly aggressive and a single cell might have packed its bags and gone traveling without leaving a note. According to the CT scan, I have other health issues that may conspire against me. And I am still recovering from surgery and its effects on my body.
I’m taking this weekend to examine case studies, published papers, alternative choices and histories. I’m looking at chemo and its “scorch the fastest growing cells – all of them at once for three days for six months. I want to know as much as I can to make my cancer a fact of life for me moving on from this surgery. How much does Chemo add to life expectancy – and quality of life – with my particular cancer? Some cancers have a proven rate of being destroyed by certain rounds of chemo. I’ll be looking at this over the holiday weekend – some holiday, huh?
I will allow time for fun too – but this is something I must do – for my life and my quality of life – what is ahead? No one knows. I am taking responsibility for myself and my future.
Thanks so all for the books and cards. It makes me feel less isolated.