|Lance looking at his 7th|
Tour de France trophy
Lance Armstrong is the greatest cyclist in history, and an inspiration to millions. He won the Tour de France a record 7 times - 7 in years in succession - after beating Choriocarcinoma. He was in a much worse state than me. Apparently the doctors gave Lance PIV chemotherapy for his 60% mix of Chorio, rather than PEB for my 95%, due to potential side-effects on his lung capacity.
I've learned that 'side-effects' are such a prominent part of cancer treatment that the term is misleading.
I've always had a high metabolic rate, burning up food and energy faster than most, and so I'm rattling through various new side-effects faster than you can say 'paracetomol'. Yesterday I had teenage spots, sores and cold sores; deafness followed by tinnitus; loss of appetite then hunger and heartburn; extreme lethargy and insomnia; and, after morning tea, I developed paranoid hallucinations and diarrhoea (a messy combination).
Then, in the afternoon, I lost my voice for 3 hours, developed an inexplicable fear of pointy things and glass, and one of my teeth broke in half and interrupted my enjoyment of a Marmite sandwich. What's left of my hair is due to fall out the day after tomorrow.
We were having a laugh about it with today's nurse. She was showing Moniek how to clean my pipe (please, remember that children read the comments you write) but reckons my rapid-fire approach to side-effects is the best one. Her attitude was 'well, you're gonna get X so you might as well have it done with and move onto Y, because Z is coming next week'.
I only have to put up with the side-effects; the nurses have to treat them. Is the side-effect serious enough to warrant another medication, or will that create yet another side-effect? Many medicines inter-react with each other, and so medical staff are continually evaluating, compromising, adjusting and refining their treatment of every patient. My hat goes off to them (taking some hair with it).
Cancer and its intended cures are hard on the body, but much harder on the mind. Some people talk about an 'emotional rollercoaster', but that's bullshit. You choose to get on a rollercoaster, the ride lasts a short and predictable time, it loops the same loops, and your chances of death are infinitesimally small. The psychological impact of cancer and chemotherapy is more like Russian roulette.
Remember the scene from 'The Deerhunter'? Apparently, today at 7pm, my gun has 1 bullet and 9 empty barrels. Others have much worse odds. It's 'will I, won't I?' every time the doctor walks into the bamboo hut and reveals a new piece of information. Being so tired and confused from all the pills and their side-effects, it's impossible to remain objective or maintain perspective about what's being discussed. It's pure mental torture.
|Me looking at Trev's arse for the 7th lap|
Move over Lance, because I plan to end up on Dr Karmen's office pinboard too. It's jam packed full of photos of her beaming survivors. I daren't look in her bin.
My nurses are absolutely wonderful. They have such compassion, respect and dedication for all their patients; every one of which has a different gun to their head, a different personal story, and a different state of mind. Moniek and I were heartbroken today; a pretty girl in a funky knitted hat was in the chemo chair next to my bed. She couldn't have been more than 15 years old. The energy and optimism our nurses create in the clinic, day in day out, through all the tragedy is truly inspirational. Today's tune is dedicated to them with huge respect.
It's also for Lance. He got back on his bike; I'm going to get back on my motorcycle. I doubt I'll become 7 times world champion, though. I can't even catch Trev on a track day.
Grab a tissue. This time you'll need it to wipe away dancing sweat rather than tears: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0L4Bonnw484