After weighing all of the pros and cons of stopping my chemo treatments early, I decided to quit after 9 treatments. Well, maybe the word “quit” is not quite appropriate. I did not “give up” on my treatment, but instead I listened to my body instead of the general public’s opinion. This decision to not complete all 12 treatments was not taken lightly, and I would not have stopped without my oncologist’s full blessing. Lucky for me, he agreed with everything I had to say.
During my seventh treatment, my oncologist let me know that my liver was becoming inflamed because of all of the drugs we were pumping through it. This got me thinking – I started this process with a shitty, tumour riddled liver. Then I met this incredible surgeon who found a way to operate on that sucker. My body then worked its magic and created something out of nothing – it grew me a healthy new liver. Now, here I am, poisoning the shit out of it. The whole reason we were going so hard and fast with the chemotherapy was to try to shrink the lung growth. Now that we discovered that it was not shrinking, why continue on with the poison? Was there heavy medical research showing that you must have all 12 treatments in order to see the full results? Not that I could find. These questions I brought to my oncologist. He agreed with me fully. If my cancer did come back, it would not be because we stopped the treatments at 9. He let me know that if it wasn’t dead already, then 3 more treatments are not going to kill it. And so, I was done. After 19 weeks and 9 chemo cocktails, it is finally time to allow my body to heal.
I should be more fucked up. I mean seriously – what kind of a mind fuck is it to be told pretty much you are on deaths door, to all of the sudden having some surgeries, doing some chemo, and then being told – oh wait, never mind, maybe you will have some years ahead. I think I can attribute my sanity to the fact I have always been more focused on other things.
Before my first surgery, my mind was not thinking about my doctor pulling and poking at all of my organs, but was more focused on how many people would prefer a burger over a hot dog at my BBQ. In between my first and second surgery I was not caught up in the horror from the first, but more focused on making sure I was well enough to go to Arcade Fire back to back. During my chemo in the Fall I was not spending day in and day out with thoughts of if it was even working, but more on what course at the University of Toronto I should take in January.
Today my focus is still partly on my health (obviously), but more on my school, my upcoming trip (yep – I am all booked for Punta Cana 3 weeks after my last shot of chemo), and then I am already excited to go back to work (currently aiming for January 2016). All of these things and more, I believe, have contributed to keeping me from becoming a crazy person. I am rarely thinking about the now, but more times than not I am focusing on what is ahead. Do not misinterpret what I am saying here – I LIVE in the now. I do pretty much what I want day in and day out because it makes me happy. I am saying my mind however, is always racing with plans for the next big thing.
I know I have spoken quite a bit about the changes in my body – but I am a girl so obviously this is a major issue for me. When I first learnt I would be on chemo for about a year, I thought like most people do – weight loss central. This however is not the case with all treatments. Yes, there is that stereotypical look of a chemo patient with no hair who looks like skin and bones. Then there are the people whose drugs react in the total opposite way – like myself. My drugs not only cause me to never have a full feeling (that’s right, I can eat for days and never get the sense I have had enough) – but the steroids have also caused some serious ballooning of my body.
The stomach was an obvious stand out at first because, well, it started standing out. Then I noticed my thighs had a few more bumps than normal. The shirts I would try on at the store went from medium to extra large – and even some of those looked too tight. I went from my skinniest after surgery to my heaviest in a matter of months – and there was really not much I could do about it. I knew the steroids were causing my face to swell – but until I did a side-by-side photo – I did not realize how much.
Yes, I understand that gaining weight is much better than losing. I did not expect to be going through this and also look like a supermodel the entire time. As a young female however, our looks are still important to us. Well not even as a young female – I would say as a female in general. Heck, even some men would probably have a tough time with this. The scars I could care less about – but looking in the mirror and seeing back rolls (yep, thats right, I now have back rolls) – was more than shocking to me. If I haven’t said it enough, I am ever so thankful to have such a strong support system. They really come in handy when I am having a “nothing fits me” kind of day. And yes I know at the end of it all, a little weight gain in order to save my life is probably a fair trade off. I think I need to put that into perspective a little more.