There are times when we all have to pick our poison. When I chose to use big Pharma medicine, I signed up to get poisoned. This is definitely a case of the ends justifying the means. From the perspective of the mainstream Oncology world, I will have a hard year that hopefully will be followed by a long and healthy life. I have also chosen to use Traditional Chinese Medicine and other alternative modalities to help my body back to a more healthy and harmonious state. These alternatives are both about supporting me during the poison treatments and to address the root cause of the cancer-ing. More long term in nature, these therapies require that I change lots of things about how I live my life. There will not be any going back to the way things were – rather a moving forward into a life incompatible with cancer-ing. Exercise, meditation, nutrition, acupuncture are all about this transformation. However, right now is the moment for tenacity – enduring the first phase of my new life, the unpleasant poisoned journey to the next phase.
The unknown is always the worst to face. When I was little, my bedroom contained the door that led to the attic stairs. I knew that somewhere up there was a skeleton – a real human skeleton that my father had gotten in medical school. I had never seen it, and feared it greatly. I used to fear that it was going to come down those stairs and “Get Me.” When I finally did see it during an attic clean-out in my teen years, it wasn’t scary at all. In fact, the irony of having an actual skeleton in our closet was funny. Such is the power of the mind to invent terror. So it is with relief that now, after two treatments, I have a better idea of how my treatment cycles will go. My Chemo treatments are on a three week cycle.
- First Week: Poison Damage Control.
- Second Week: Sequestered Body Recovery.
- Third Week: Pharma-Free Near Normalcy.
First Week is when the poisons are moving through the system. As you know from my Meanest Woman post, steroids are also given to prevent an allergic response, and to help mitigate nausea. Of the four substances that I receive during a chemo infusion, two are poisons. The dosage is geared to balance: 1. Trying not to kill me, with 2. Knocking out the cancer-ing cells.
The poisons of course also kill healthy cells, which leads to the Second Week, with its lack of blood cells, which results in a compromised immune system, anemia and lack of adequate platelets. It has a variety of other side effects that are different than those of the first week.
Finally there is the Third Week, when my body is hopefully mostly clear of all the various Pharmaceuticals. This is where I am right now, feeling fairly normal. Yesterday we all went to town, had lunch at the Scorcher, went shopping for groceries, and checked out the robot that Sam is helping to build down in Seaside. (The robot thing is very cool. We are all excited that Sam is participating.) I wore something other than pajama pants. It is during this third week that I remember that my body is made up of at least 99.97% healthy cells. (Percentage based on a rough estimate gained from an in home experiment. Methods included weighing my breast on a gram scale, and estimating how much of it was cancer-ing based on the pictures from the PET/CT and MRI scans. Homeschool sometimes leads to innovative applied science . . .)
Yesterday I also spontaneously realized the perfect sound bite for my situation. “It sucks, but, this isn’t what I am going to die of.” I got there with the help of Spike Gillespie, my friend and Martin’s pen pal. Spike has a good post on her blog, Meditation Kicks Ass, about the healing power of honest acknowledgment. She also has some nice instructions on how to meditate, which have helped me while I am learning to meditate with intention. Talking to a variety of friends who meditate has also been helpful in letting go of my illusions of Right ways and Wrong ways to meditate – ways which may or may not have somehow been mandated by GOD. Mostly these wise folks tell me to focus on breathing, and trying to ground myself. I figure that, since meditation seems to be much easier during the Pharma-Free Third Week of the cycle, I will practice now – and not frustrate myself while I am processing the various Poisons and their aftermath during weeks 1 & 2 of each cycle. My meditating brain is not likely to be studied, as some buddhist monks are being studied, anytime soon – however, I am liking it. During my nap yesterday, I even had a dream I was meditating. How cool is that?
Right now I am trying to do as many positive things as possible so that when I feel yucky next week it won’t be compounded by fear of the permanent nature of the “It Sucks Factor.” (That is a technical term.) I think that all the fear is the worst side effect. And it isn’t even mostly fear about cancer-ing, it is mostly fears about feeling yucky permanently, and making my family sick of dealing with me. Sam seems to find this laughable – which does mitigate the fears some. So this week I am soaking up love and joy and beauty, as well as sunshine and starlight. I hope that all of you are also getting the same.