“Treatment 2 or 3 – that’s when you say Holy Shit – excuse my language.”
“That’s OK. I’ve used much stronger words today.”
Today is when I learned I’ll be having surgery. Then I’ll be having chemo. Then I’ll be having radiation. Then I’ll take a pill for five years.
Chemo. Chemotherapy. Approximately four weeks after my surgery I’ll begin chemotherapy. There will be four treatments of two drugs, once a week, every two to three weeks. The first treatment is “tough.” The next two are “holy shit.” Most people want to give up after the third week, she said, but it’s only one more week.
Reactions to these drugs include nausea, weakness, fatigue, body aches, pain.
I may not want to eat. Or drink. Some patients come in on their off-treatment weeks to get hydration therapy. It seems to help.
“My husband’s a saint, but even saints need breaks. Can my parents come help? Would that be OK?”
“Yes. Yes, your parents need to come. They’re not going to be going out to the bars every night…”
“You don’t know my parents…”
Which was silly to say, and broke up the fear, and made both of us laugh for a moment.
Tomorrow morning I’m getting another COVID test and on Monday I will have another surgery. I won’t eat or drink anything after midnight on Sunday. I’ll take my shower with the special soap Sunday night and Monday morning. Dr. B. will take out several of my lymph nodes under my arm. For the next couple of days I’ll be tired. For the next few weeks I won’t lift anything that weighs more than a bottle of wine. I won’t be drinking wine, so I’ll have to find another barometer. Then, in about four weeks, chemotherapy drugs will be injected into a port Dr. B. will install while removing my lymph nodes.
There is a window of about one week, maybe two, in the next four in which I will feel fairly normal. And then I will have months of betrayal from a body I knew so well.
This is oh, so very dramatic, but you know what? It is. Seriously. I am pissed off. I’ve always listened to my body and know its nuances. We’ve had this symbiotic thing going on. It gets a little worn out, slaps me on the head with a cold or something, and I rest for a bit. Bam. Boom. Better. I get too tired or achy, I know I need to move and drink water. I get sleepy after lunch, I know I need to cut out the carbs. I know my body.
Even the last few weeks showed me I don’t know my body, the weeks after I had cancer removed from my breast and a sentinel node removed from my side. Sentinel – a soldier or guard whose job is to stand watch. The sentinel did her job. She betrayed the horde laying wait.
But I didn’t know. I didn’t know before they found the lump. I haven’t felt anything since. I don’t know now. If I hadn’t gotten a mammogram, and if I hadn’t gotten a biopsy, and if I hadn’t hadn’t hadn’t, next year or next decade I could be dealing with a body riddled with cancer, instead of just a few nodes.