Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Side Effects and Other Things

While I have never been known for my patience, in the world of “my new normal,” I am beginning to learn that patience truly is a virtue, especially for stubborn folks like me.

Typically, my chemo day drill starts with getting lab work done at 7:30, seeing my doc at 8:30, then waiting for the pharmacy to make up the chemo cocktails; I then get hooked up to a chemo pole for anywhere between 5 and 7 hours.  However, for my past few treatments, the difficulty with accessing my port has given Job (and his patience) a run for his money.  This morning my blood return was not working, so we went through various and sundry contortions of lying on my side with my arm extended over my head, followed by leaning over to touch my toes; I am now fully ready to gyrate to a few verses of YMCA at the next wedding that I attend.  Always willing to be helpful, I suggested to the nurses that they might want to bring out a trapeze so that the port could be more easily accessed. Fortunately, after numerous machinations, they were able to access my port.  Thus, my new normal seems to be yet another chapter of hurry up and wait.

Before my diagnosis, I assumed that cancer would be painful, but I have found that it is not. However, the unpredictability and the randomness of the side effects are another story. My sensitivity to cold has become more challenging than I would have thought. If the weather is chilly or if I want something in a glass jar from the refrigerator, I need to wear gloves. Much to my dismay,  I was shocked and somewhat bummed the other day as I was trying to bake a cake. I cracked the first egg, but my fingers were so tingly and cold sensitive that I couldn't hold the other two eggs long enough to crack them. As a person who has always been independent and able to do everything by myself, it was very dispiriting to have to ask for help to crack an egg, and yet the random annoyances and indignities keep on coming. All in all, it's just another brick in the wall.

However, I am heartened to know that the people in my world are kind and caring. Since my whole cancer schmantzer odyssey started back in April, I have been touched by the kind words and actions of family, of friends, of former students, and of strangers.

With all of the divisiveness and horror in the world coming at us from all directions these days, it is good to know that one of the unexpected side effects of having cancer is to be reminded that most people are good at heart.

That is why it is so difficult for me to understand those who wring their hands and offer thoughts and prayers for the tragedies that seem to be coming at us daily at warp speed. Rather than offering empty platitudes and rhetoric which signify nothing, I wonder what will it take for us to press our legislators to enact policies and legislation that will demonstrate that they are as good as their constituents?

Do they not see the goodness and kindness of the people who are reaching out to help one another?

Do they not understand the words of Anne Frank?
                     Despite everything, I believe that people really are good at heart.

Disasters, diseases, and tragedies make the world a more level playing field.   Like it or not, cancer does not care whether you are rich or poor, old or young, and it creates a level playing field. My oncology team is doing it best to stave off the cancer that is in my body.  If only we could all work together to create policies to stave off the cancer that has invaded our body politic.


  1. Another unexpected side-effect...

    ...learning that it's ok to get help from others to crack and egg...or anything else you might need. It's hard to let go of the independence, but it's nice to give others the opportunity to show you how important you are.

  2. Thanks, Stu. Sometimes that is difficult to remember.