When I began, I had no idea what ‘cancer’ actually meant. Here’s what Wikipedia says:
Cancer is a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body.
I like that explanation. Cancer isn’t a disease as much as different diseases that share a single deadly trait. When healthy cells split, if they reach another cell, they stop. Not so with cancer. Cancer cells keep dividing, taking space normally reserved for vital bodily organs and functions.
That’s why every cancer needs a different cure and why different cancers act differently.
Some cancers are more easily detected through tests or exams. Some like my pancreatic cancer are seldom found until it’s too late.
From the National Cancer Institute:
Chemotherapy: Treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing.
Different cancers need different chemo drugs. The goal, stop the cancerous cells from spreading. Sounds easy enough. Turns out it’s really hard.
Chemo is targeted, but this is not precision bombing. Chemotherapy takes out good cells with the bad. It’s poison with a therapeutic purpose.
After chemo my blood sugar is up, my white and red counts and blood platelets are down. Because I’m prone to infection I take another drug, Neulasta, after chemo.
There are steroids in my body tonight. As they wear off I’ll wear out and spend a good part of the weekend sleeping while my body feverishly works at replacing the good cells that got zapped. This is a priority set by my body. I have no say in it.
The aftermath of chemo sucks, but it’s not so bad I can’t deal with it. Nothing I’ve been through has been more than I can take. Not even close. And I’m not special in the ‘suck it up’ department. Anyone can do this if you have the right attitude.
Look at cancer treatment in the aggregate and it looks horrible. But you don’t live it that way. You live it in real time and that’s much easier. Think bite size chunks.
Pancreatic cancer will soon be cured. Lots of other cancers too. It will be amazing. It will be expensive.
How much is living worth? To me it’s priceless.