What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger

Day 2, cycle 1. Oh well, farewell Steroid Janet, I will miss you. It was fun while it lasted, all 48 hours of it. I can see how steroids could become addictive, reminds me of my 1970s college career, and some fun experimentation that could have turned into more if I had let it (or had the money to fund it).

Hello, the poison that will cure me. I guess it’s no coincidence that one of the drugs now flowing through my veins has the root “toxic,” aka poison, in its name (for those who want to compare regimens, I’m on a Cytoxan and Taxotere cocktail).

Yesterday, I woke up ready to tackle the world, matching my husband’s rather aggressive walking pace in the park in the morning, only to take to my “couch nest” for an afternoon of coloring, books on tape, and a four-hour nap (forcing hubby to worriedly check on me in increasingly loud ways). Today, however, I woke up and got ready for a walk in the park — solo this time, I sent hubby to work — and realized that I was dizzy and not exactly feeling like race walking, let alone walking out the door, to say nothing of the gastric distress that seems to be roiling (I’ll spare you the details).

These side effects can be found on the lovely 10-page chart I received from the oncologist. I’m trying not to study the list, not wanting to think myself into side effects, but once something strange starts to happen, I do consult it, and it’s comforting on some level that this is all in the range of expectation.

So, here I sit writing, paying bills, futzing with uncooperative technology, and checking in on a friend in the eye of the hurricane in North Carolina, trying to be somewhat productive, while acknowledging that this will be how it goes. Paying attention to my body, to what I can manage, and learning to be ok if that turns out to be not a whole heck of a lot on a particular day. A survivor friend refers to cancer treatment as “death by a thousand paper cuts” and I’m starting to understand just what that means — no individual thing will kill you, but the accumulation of things can be a royal pain in the ass.

I am not someone who pays particular attention to her body, nor someone who is ok with not being highly productive, so more lessons from my new best buddy cancer. If today is a day when all I accomplish is staying safe, getting another good nap, and maybe if the gods are with me, making a pot of soup for later, it will be a good day — even without the soup.

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