How does one approach chemotherapy?

I’m days away from my first chemo treatment. And while my busy life has been a wonderful distraction, I’m very aware that my body is preparing for something…different.

My sleep patterns have changed. I wake up at various hours and have a hard time falling back asleep. As a result, I’m much more tired than normal. Plus the many doctor appointments have taken me out of my routine. So I’m not able to get my morning exercise and cherished walk in every day.

Because of all of that, I’m having a harder time focusing and staying on task. True, this could happen for various reasons- the lapse in my mental abilities may have been present regardless. But my sense is that the stress, lack of sleep and impending treatments are weighing heavily on me.

And maybe that’s a sign that I need to just slow it down a bit.

I’m a planner. And a questioner. So I like to have an idea of how I’m moving forward- what’s the best way for me to approach something? But when it comes to this chemo thing, I’m just at a loss.

I really want to remain positive. Focus on the fact that doing these 16 infusions are going to lower the chances of the cancer returning. But I feel like I’m heading into a dark, ugly storm. I can see the storm coming and I really just want to turn and run the other way.

I wouldn’t consider myself anti-Western medicine, but I have always been very cautious about putting things in my body that alter its’ state. Yes, I’m one of those boring people who doesn’t do drugs or even drink alcohol because I just don’t like the way it feels in my body. And this thinking extends to taking medicine prescribed to help the body heal. I’ll agree to using medicine because I understand the benefits outweigh the consequences. But I’m mindful of the resistance and conflict I feel. And now, I’ll be going for 16 infusions of some heavy duty drugs over the next 5 months to make sure my body remains healthy for a long time to come. And I’m having a hard time grappling with all of this.

I’ve heard some people say that chemo is like a war. That I should look at the medicine as going in to fight off all the bad cells. But I’m a pacifist and I don’t believe in wars. And while I understand the sentiment, it just doesn’t resonate for me.

I’ve also heard a lot of people say f*ck cancer. And, again, while I understand the sentiment, that just seems so aggressive and angry and not in alignment with how I’m experiencing all of this.

Others have mentioned how I should picture the poison going into my body as it seeks out the cancer cells and obliterates them. I’m not quite sure how picturing poison go into my body can be a good thing, but that word, poison- that definitely resonates with me. And I definitely don’t want to picture that!

So I guess part of my lesson is just to live in the unknown. Ugh. That’s a hard one for me. Maybe I don’t need an approach. Maybe I just show up, get my infusion and see what happens?

One of the amazing nurses I’ve experienced during this journey offered some kind reassurance. I was in recovery after having my port placed (Not nearly the minor experience I was expecting, but that’s another story.) and I shared some of my fear about heading into chemo with her. She reminded me that everyone experiences chemo in different ways. And while it’s good to have all the facts, I should remember that this is my own experience and it may not look like everyone else’s.

Along those lines, while I’m happy to share myself through these blogs, I ask for you to please refrain from sharing your advice, or tales of your friend’s experience with cancer. I’m open to encouragement, but want to try to leave space for me to have my own experience.

So I’ll try to remain positive, but if I’m not, that’s ok. I don’t have to be happy. I don’t have to be angry. I just have to…..wait, I just getto…BE.

I’m alive now. And there may be times that this just sucks. But hopefully there will be other times that I’m taken out of my cancer world and have the gift of enjoying my amazing life; witnessing my boys in their joy. Laughing. Loving. Living.

We will see….

In loving,

Sarah

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