Posted on February 24, 2015


20150204_090001The white paper crinkles when I shift my weight. I suppose the paper is there to stop the Ebola virus from spreading by means of the beige pleather covering of the exam-room table. The fluorescent bulbs give the neutrally-designed walls and desk a sterile glow. I’ve been in this room, or one equally as vanilla, seemingly a hundred times in the past year. It’s just white noise and my thoughts… yet again.

I’ve dreaded Wednesday mornings for the past few months. They became my midweek trek down the green-mile, to the hospital for my bi-monthly blood work-up and chemotherapy infusion. It hasn’t always been as menacing, I began these rounds of chemo excited to give myself the best chance at living a long, healthy, event-less life, with my bride, dog, white-picket fence, and maybe even a couple Wick-lets running around the yard, beating each other up with perfectly-tuned ukeleles… or something like that. But those dreams vanished with every drip of the IV.

Being in a living-nightmare isn’t a storyline for Hollywood, its every day for cancer patients. Each treatment, I left the hospital, cloudy-headed and drenched with poison. That feeling would continue for the next two days until I get my 5FU drug unplugged from my chest. That’s when the real fun began.

20150204_102703For at least the next week I would feel like a shell of myself. Hollowed out, senseless, always queued up to vomit at the wisp of a wrong smell (correction: queued up to vomit at the wisp of any smell). My body, a thousand pounds of welded steel, allowed just enough motion to reach the bathroom, couch, or bed… anywhere else took the will of Hercules. I was beaten in every connotation of the word.

My hands constantly had pins and needles; painful pricks exploding at the slightest cold temperatures, despite constantly wearing gloves. This side-effect also landed in the back of my throat, forcing me to keep any life-giving liquid I wanted to drink outside the fridge, or to heat it into some type of tea-concoction. God bless beef broth… God bless the hell out of that salty goodness.

The door handle turned and the faux-wood door opened. My doctor slid in, seemingly happy to see me.

“Mr. Jon, how are you feeling?”

“Well, doc. Not awesome.” He sympathetically shook his head in agreement. I can’t imagine how many times he’s heard that before, and still looks genuinely concerned.

I ran through my side effects, assigning arbitrary numbers to each, and telling him that I just started feeling a fraction of myself in the last few days. This treatment program, would give me the false pretense of feeling better, just before I head back up to the hospital for the next infusion.

20150206_102753“Doctor, I understand that I’m on chemotherapy. I get it. I shouldn’t feel good, but this stuff has a depth of awfulness that I just didn’t know existed. My pre-treatments of 5FU were unicorns and glitter compared to this stuff. You’ve got to let me know, do I have any options at this point?”

He rubbed his temples for a second.

“Well, you’ve gotten through half of your FOLFOX treatments. You had clear margins and were downstaged in surgery. You had no lymph node responses, either. Your prognosis is a good one.”

He paused again. I’m not sure if it’s for dramatic purpose, or if he’s referencing the library of oncology books and research in his mind.

“I’d say, that we definitely have some options.”

Posted in: Cancer