July 1, 2013

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Today I sit at chemotherapy number 5. Number 4 kicked my ass. I went in to the clinic during week 2 of cycle 4 and got pumped full of IV fluids. Amazingly it really helped! I was able to get out of bed, even work half days all week! 

There are so many things in your body that just don't function like normal when you're going through chemo for colon cancer. I would imagine there are similarities with chemo treatments for other cancers as well. As I venture into cycle 5 I can't help but think about the good, bad and the ugly of chemo treatments. 

I am not going to start with the good. I want to end this blog on a high note. So I'll start with the bad...

The bad is not being able to do what I've always done. I don't want to sound like a singles ad here, but I really miss walks on the beach. I'm usually too tired to take that long walk and on top of it I'm fearful of picking up some crazy bacteria. I'm going to have to take the risk because I just love the ocean, it's so calming. The bad is also having my friends feel sorry for me, I really hate that! Please don't shed any tears for me. As a empathetic person, I totally get it. But when it comes to me, I hate it. I don't want anyone feeling sorry for me. Why? I don't know, I just know I don't like it. What I do like and love is the supportive cards, letters and comments I get on social media! Those are so full of positive energy and encouragement, it's great Spirit Fuel! The bad is also not being able to eat or touch anything cold. I can't tell you how much I have been craving ice-cream or a big o' milkshake! But there is no way I can eat any of that because it would feel like I was swallowing razor blades. Yep, another joy one experiences on the 5FU chemo drug. Sadly, many of the foods I love don't love me during cancer treatment. Salads, fruits, veggies or high fiber foods wreak havoc on my system, I have to eat in moderation. Carbs seem to agree with me, which is something I didn't eat much of before. And NO sushi or ahi tuna - huge frownie face on that … too much of a bacteria risk. Go figure! Oh and thanks to aforementioned carbs and the steroids they add to the chemo mix, the pounds stay on … no benefit of losing weight here. Oh and the dreaded Chemo Brain. I've left the stove on for a few hours at a time lately. Hopefully I don't end up burning down the house. Forming thoughts, writing & typing is extremely difficult the first week of chemo.

The ugly is really ugly. Warning, if you're squeamish then you better skip this paragraph. It's all part of the ungodly side effects of chemotherapy. For instance, losing control of one's bowels a while at the Starbucks drive thru …  now that is ugly. Week one I'm bound up tighter than an Egyptian mummy. Week two, watch out… I can never be too far from a bathroom. God forbid I feel gassy as letting one rip is never a good idea as you never know what will come out with the gas!  Then there is the muscle cramps and Neuropathy. Some days I feel pins and needles in my feet like they've fallen asleep. One day my fingers started curing up and cramping, all the while I couldn't feel them. I could' t uncurl my fingers on my own, I needed to take one clinched up hand to straighten my fingers out. It's terribly frightening to experience something like that as you don't know if it's temporary or permanent! 

And the good. Amazingly there is a lot of good that can comes out of the cesspool of cancer treatment. Last week Nurse Cathy was admiring my lotus tattoo as she was feeling me IV fluids. She asked if I was a practicing Buddhist. I said, "no, but I subscribe to may of their beliefs." She then told me about the Clearwater Zen Center which she attends  The focus at the center is meditation. According to the Zen Center,  The Japanese word “Zen” derives from the Sanskrit term “dhyana”, which refers to non-dualistic, meditative absorption. Zazen, or silent Zen meditation, is the essential practice of Zen. By helping to free the mind of all thoughts and images, this practice allows our innate wisdom and compassion —our own “buddha-nature”—to come up to consciousness, so that we can awaken to it and actually live the wholeness and perfection that is our birthright. Wednesday night is for beginners. I plan to attend and start getting into a regular routine of mediation. If it wasn't for Nurse Cathy I would have been too inhibited to ever try it out! Today I was with Nurse Theresa who was getting me set up with my chemo IV. She asked about Noah who was with me last time. We started talking about Asperger's and how it is hard to get him to really 'get' what mom is going through. Then she began to tell me about a boy in her Boy Scout Troop that she believes has Aspergers. Theresa has a minor in psychology so she knows her stuff. Turns out this troop meets just down the road from me. I've considered getting Noah into this for a while but avoided it due to his Aspergers. Well, no more! Nurse Theresa is sending me home with info and I'm getting my boy signed up as soon as I can! I can't say enough about the Walgreens Speciality Care Clinic I go to for treatment. The nurses are amazing! They are all so loving and caring, that in itself is a big part of the good! (Spoiler alert for World War Z) Oh and I found out last weekend that Zombies hate people infected with disease according to World War Z - so for now, I'm safe from the Zombie Apocalypse!

I want to also say, thank you all for following me on this journey. Please share this blog with anyone you wish, especially anyone going through treatment and their loved ones. My hope is that by unabashedly sharing my experience it will in turn help others as they make their journey through the Dark Forest of Cancer and come out unscathed and healthy on the other side! 

I now have a Facebook page for Finding Zen with Cancer. I will post notification of my blog updates, in addition to daily inspirational messages. 
God bless! 

Cycle 5!! .... HIGH FIVE!

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