Chemotherapy – Second Cancer
I knew that I would need Chemotherapy for my second cancer as soon as my surgeon told me that an unexpected third small tumor was found and that it had penetrated my pleura. I wasn’t sure what the pleura was but I knew what penetration meant. It is not a good word when it comes to cancer. Cancer penetration to another organ generally indicates metastasis. No one who has cancer wants to be told that. Although my surgeon removed parts of the pleura and the lingula there was still a chance that a cell had escaped. There was really was only one option. Chemotherapy for my second lung cancer.
Immediately, so much went through my mind about what Chemotherapy was and what would happen during my sessions. I was off-balance after being told that there was only a fifty-fifty chance of the chemo catching any stray cancer cells. So if the chemo worked would it cure me? What would it be like? I was scared from all the rumors I had heard about losing hair and non-stop vomiting. If there was a metastasis would it spread during the time that I had to wait for an appointment? Where will I have it? Will I have to stay overnight? What will the next step be if the chemo doesn’t work?
There was so much to think about and so much that baffled me that I was in a frenzy, like a chicken looking for its head. And I was afraid. What to do first? Second? And what was I afraid of? Well, I think mostly that I was afraid of things that I am not familiar with, can’t envision, can’t fathom. What would it feel like? What are the chances that if it doesn’t work, will I die? Will it hurt? How sick will I be? What kind of sickness? Will the sickness go away, ever?
I have had this very horrible phobia of vomiting since I was a young child. On many occasions I have had to literally run out of rooms and sympathetically gag if I thought that someone might vomit. I had heard many horror stories about vomiting being a definite side-effect of chemo. However, if I chose to have the chemotherapy administered in Boston, and needed to vomit, how would we ever pull over on the Southeast Expressway?
P.J. O’ Rourke said, “Actually, there is no way of making vomiting courteous. You have to do the next best thing, which is to vomit in such a way that the story you tell about it later will be amusing.”
I didn’t want to commute to Boston for chemotherapy. I really wanted chemo administered locally, and if I got sick traveling in Rhode Island, at least that would be more comfortable, like “going” in your own bathroom. My oncologist agreed to this and sent my records to another Oncologist who practiced about twenty-minutes from me.
I also wanted to know what kind of chemotherapy I was to get. Would it be pill form, intravenous, or something else? How often would I need it? How long would I need it? Will I know immediately if it worked? How ill I know if it didn’t work? Will it kill all my other healthy cells and make me a vegetable?
Most of these questions could not be answered immediately. It would take time for me to make my way and not be fearful of every new symptom or twinge. I had a lot to learn!
“I love how, whenever you tell me a story, you go backwards and forwards and tell me everything else that could possibly be happening in every direction, like an explosion. Like a flower blooming.”
― Andrew Smith, Grasshopper Jungle