Paradox of Good Wishes & Reality

On April 25, my very first post to this summer journal and blog, I started with these words:

“I don’t like it when friends, family say “I’m sorry.”

“I have cancer.

“There are three words no one ever expects to write. So, when I share that news with those I love and care about, and I’d like to think care about me, I know they are at a loss for words.”

I have sort of had a similar experience the last week since treatment number five but a bit different. I had my fifth Chemotherapy treatment a week ago today with the sixth, and final treatment, scheduled for a week from today. Before the fifth, I learned I was in “substantial reduction” of cancer cells and had only one lymph node show up  on a CAT scan as cancerous.

So with just one treatment left I’m getting lots of well wishes, “That’s great – only one to to go!” And those people are right and it’s appreciated, but the truth of the matter is it’s also awful. Chemotherapy, as any cancer patient having undergone Chemo knows, is a culmulative effect problem. So I appreciate the good wishes but gently add that it probably means I’ll feel as bad as any time during the three month process. Oh well – friends and visitors have got me through this. I appreciate the good wishes.

In the seven days since treatment No. 5, I had a softer roller coaster. Let’s get graphic with it, shall we?

line 1The line above represents my first 3-4 treatments. The good-day/bad-day roller coaster was unpredictable. But I usually had a good 12-14 hours or bad. The unpredictability was tough, especially when going 2-3 days feeling pretty good then getting hit hard, but you learn to deal with it.

For the past two weeks that line has changed.

line 2It seems now that my good and bad moments change in 2-3 hour increments. After last Monday’s treatment I felt pretty awful all evening. But the days that followed were good mornings, bad afternoons, half the evening bad and half good.

The only consistency of recent weeks is a prolonged feeling of toxicity, shortness of breathe and a huge difference in fatigue. That’s the scariest part that the fatigue is going to be debilitating these final few weeks. I continue to struggle with constipation – and let’s just say the worst possible side effect of that side effect. No one really wants to know more. And now nothing has its natural taste. In the early rounds, by the end of one chemo rotation I could taste certain foods correctly. Now that I’m on a two-week rotation, the yuck is pretty constant.

But I have to think like my friends at this point, even if it’s half the story, … “It really is great – only one to go!”

About Howard

After most of my career in the newspaper business I joined higher education, working in Public Affairs. I write mostly about value wine. I have now taken early retirement and work part-time in a small boutique, retail wine shop in Indianapolis
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1 Response to Paradox of Good Wishes & Reality

  1. Kim Ray says:

    Hugs and prayers to you Howard. I’ve been following your progress. Even though the unpredictable roller coaster exists, just remember you are blessed and moving forward.


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