I can’t begin to describe how strange this entire experience is to live through each day. People ask me all the time how I’m doing, how I feel and I often answer that I’m fine, grateful to be up and about. But the truth is more multi faceted than that. Do I have my energy back? Mostly. Can I eat solid food? For the most part. But then there are the side effects that others can’t see. The mouth sores, the bone pain, the blisters on my face and this one is my new favorite, the chemo period. Sorry in advance to all my male readers, but the chemo period is horrible. Eventually the chemo should knock out my ovaries, but until then my estrogen producing powerhouses are fighting back with all their might. “Ain’t no period like a chemo period, cause a chemo period don’t stop,” ever. I’ve been a crimson river for nine days now and it’s monsoon season. It doesn’t help that I’m anemic and can’t clot because of the chemo. My doctor’s recommendation at this point is to wait and see. How do you stop a period flood? You can’t put a band aid on it, or apply pressure; you just deal with it and pray you don’t bleed to death.
So anyway, that’s where my morning starts. I’m rushing my children to school, making lunches, signing permission slips, organizing sharing for the day and running out the door. I’m picking my mom up from the mechanics and taking her to my sister before I go in for my weekly infusion and I’m running late and forget my extra stash of tampons, (which, coincidentally is my 4 year old son’s new favorite word). As I’m getting ready to leave my son with my mom and head off for my infusion he begins to cry. He’s now formed a crippling fear of me leaving. I can’t walk across the street without him shrieking and grabbing onto my leg for fear that I will not come back, that I will die. I’m standing in Starbucks with a hysterical 4 year old attached to my leg and I realize that I’ve forgotten my extra tampons and am now bleeding through my favorite jeans and I’m late to chemo. Awesome sauce. Eventually I’m able to calm Fin down and head off to the Cancer Center and I just start crying. It’s too much. Some days all of this is just too damn much.
Then life has a way of putting things into perspective. As I was sitting in the infusion room, receiving my drugs I saw another young woman off to my left. After my infusion I walked over to introduce myself, thinking that I’ve never seen her before and maybe she’s new. Maybe I could be inspiring. No, not the case. As we began to talk I learned that she is in her early 20’s and has her THIRD round of ovarian cancer. Third. She’s here every week to receive a drug that is buying her time. Not saving her life, that is no longer an option. Oh. Not even an option, and she’s in her early twenties. I instantly felt like an asshole for feeling sorry for myself. I only have a few months of this hell left, and then I get to go on with my life. A life that (hopefully) has been saved by my Surgeons and Oncologists. My side effects will some day end and my life will continue.