Cancer Incognito 2 – The Chemo

Does mayonnaise make you uncomfortable?  Does mayonnaise cause you pain?  Here is an unexpected side-effect that he (remember – no names) experienced during the first four months of chemotherapy.  Such extreme cold sensitivity that just taking a room-temperature bottle of mayonnaise off the shelf in the grocery store made him uncomfortable.  If it were refrigerated, pain was the result.

Do you know how hard it is to stay hydrated when everything you drink has to be warmed up?  What about the air you breathe?  January through April in Utah delivers cold air!  Sleeping was the worst – he would make hot-water bottles to keep him warm and give him something to drink in the night.  So many blankets!  It took a few rounds of chemotherapy and waking up in a pain-filled panic before he learned all of the tricks.  He would enter the infusion center with a jacket and leave wearing scarf, gloves, hat and ear muffs.  It would calm down after the first week or so and by the end of his three week cycle he would be back to normal, only to begin again.  Now recall that he doesn’t want anyone to know that he has cancer – so he must attempt to appear normal and nonchalant when he really wants to be home curled up in a blanket.

Thankfully this particular drug was discontinued after the first six cycles and he is much warmer now.  That leaves him with two more which he will take “for as long as they keep working.”  From the start he refused to have another port implanted – so they have to start an IV each time he gets an infusion.  The third chemo drug is another troublemaker.  Five years ago he was on this same regimen though with the use of port.  He would take this drug home with him and let it infuse over two days.  A nurse have to would come to his apartment to remove it.  Without port access, he takes three pills each morning and three each evening.  The biggest pills I have ever seen.  He still says that this is better than having a port.  These pills have a negative effect on his extremities.  He has learned to manage the pain in his feet.  His hands are also affected; so much that his phone no longer recognizes his fingerprint.  Though his body is muscular, sometimes he cannot lift because of the pain in his hands.

He does not complain.  Nine years ago his cancer treatments left him oh-so-sick, pale, in a wheelchair and without hair.  This time he is oh-so-cold, handsome, walking and without fingerprints.  Perspective helps.

I am writing about this because it is interesting.  The interesting part to me is to know what he is going through and yet most people would never guess.  I am so proud of how he has carried on.  He teaches us that we can face life head on while not letting our trials define us.  He is confronting his cancer and fighting it, but he knows that he is oh-so-much more than cancer.  His life has so many positive aspects and this is where he chooses to place his focus.

It also makes we look at people and wonder what secret trials they are enduring?  We are all oh-so-much more than our trials.  Nevertheless they exist – just another reason that we all need each other oh-so-much.

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