Between you and me .. the thing I am really looking forward to .. is
that day when it occurs to me .. that this 'thing' .. this cancer thing &
especially the EFFECTS of its brutal treatment regimen .. is/are behind me.
I cannot say that today, tho. Because this 'thing' is all up in my ass
right now. Like a toothy croc munching on your butt.
But certainly, day #23 represents at least the beginning
of the end. And that alone brings a degree of comfort .. that I
made it beyond treatment and survived.
In other words » the worst is now behind. (Tho, no .. I admit, it
does not feel that way.)
While I was waiting recently to see the chemo doctor .. the nurse for the radiation doctor came out and saw me. She came over and sat down and we chatted for 10 minutes .. there in the big waiting room.
She has seen me violently shaking and projective vomiting, during my 2nd clinical trial .. so our level of familiarity goes beyond the usual niceties of social grace.
It's interesting how we can develop these mini relationships with people that feel surprisingly intimate .. for the amount of time that you spend together. And they know (intimately) this very vulnerable part of you. (And they are there to help.)
And I remember her saying » "The hardest thing you'll ever do." It struck me when she said it.
But how would she know? She herself has never had cancer, nor been treated for it.
She must have heard such things from other patients, I am guessing.
But certainly this thing, this cancer thing and especially the effects of its brutal treatment regimen .. is ONE OF the hardest. No doubt there, bro.
So .. one of the least appreciated things about cancer, it would seem, is that the oncologist, in order to kill the incurable .. must nearly kill you (the patient) .. or, at least, make it feel like they are trying.
If she happens to come over and talk to me again .. I dont think I can stop myself from asking her .. what it's like to work for/with her doctor. (One of my doctors .. I seem to have so many.)
I mean, she probably spends more waking hours with him than his wife. He is very smart. Impressive.
I've always enjoyed working with (and even for) highly competent people. He seems like he is always a step or two ahead of you. (In a good way.)
Some of the other people I have talked to (more than one) .. have indicated that they're afraid of him, or maybe just intimidated by him. As tho he were a demanding task master.
And there is so much riding on his work .. that you want it as good as it can get .. in order to coax from the odds the very best outcome possible. Feel me?
Perhaps the terms afraid and intimidated are exaggerations. But you catch my drift, and I cannot be more clear without quoting them directly .. so you see exactly what I'm talking about. I am thinking of 3 examples .. two girls and one guy. Which gave me that impression.
If it were just one .. you could more easily dismiss it as an anomaly.
I was originally going to discuss this stuff in the entry labeled » Killing the Incurable .. but never quite got around to it. (Blame it on the chemo.)
Well .. maybe I can discuss one of those conversations. But not now. Maybe later. If I remember.
Chemo Doctors (Medical Oncologists) Are » Blood People
The Chemo doctor said my blood counts should return to normal within 30
days (of today). "Definitely."
Chemo doctors are called Medical Oncologists. They are blood people.
Experts in the blood, and especially how the various (30) different
chemo's affect it. That is their area of expertise. The blood.
A doctor specializing in blood who is not an oncologist is called a
If the cancer does come back (she said) .. it usually comes back within the
» first two years. So, if you make it that far, you're over the biggest
statistical hump. (We're talking about a matter of life-n-death, no?)
» I have been trading emails recently with the sister of clinical trials patient #24. (I was #23, like Michael Jordan.) Her brother is three weeks behind me in treatment. Today is his final chemo and he has one week of radiation left.
Cancer is Such a Mystery
Most interesting of all the things she wrote is this »
My VOICE .. it has been a problem, off-n-on, for a week or so. The last time I saw the radiation oncologist, he said » "If your voice doesnt improve by the next time I see you, I am going to look at it."
Already, I can barely talk. When I do it hurts. My gums are bleeding and look downright scary (swollen & turning pale white).
My nose is bleeding, so that I need to wad up pieces of tissue paper and stick them in my nostril so that I dont drip blood everywhere.
And those arent even the worst parts. Dont even get me started on my tongue. Or my throat. This is why I say that this does not look doable.
Four weeks looks doable. Maybe five. But seven? I'm not seeing how you do that. Other than eating tons of narcotic pain meds all the time.
When the Chemo doctor [ Medical Oncologist ] saw me this past week, after feeling the size of the tumor, she looked in my mouth with a light and said » "Well, you definitely have mouth sores." [ just like she said I would ]
In this sense my hump is not really a hump, but rather merely represents the halfway point up a gnarly, steep hill .. the hump being up there at the top of the hill. Cuz you will still feel like shit well after 'treatment' concludes.
I can see that a primary concern for the Oncologist is giving the patient enough information so that (s)he has a good idea of what to expect, but not so much that you freak them the fuck out .. which would not be difficult.
I dont want to gross you out. [ Tho certainly, I'm sure that I easily could. You do not want to hear, for example, my emergency procedures to help alleviate the mother of all constipations .. caused by the narcotic pain meds. ] So let me tout some positives instead, and perhaps even inject some Rad humor .. for purposes of stress relief.