chemo – 5 weeks later

photo of over-the-counter medications in linen closet

It’s been five weeks since my final chemo, and as I’m getting back out in the world more and more, people are asking me about my experience and how I’m doing. I’ve also been thinking a lot about my overall experience of chemo, and what I would say about chemo if asked by someone who was facing it.

The answer: Chemo’s not that bad.

Don’t get me wrong – chemo had plenty of nasty parts. Nausea and food aversions (with my first chemo drugs), some of the worst migraines of my life, mouth sores, fatigue, constipation and hemorrhoids, fevers, trips to the Emergency Room, skin irritation and yeast infection, to name a few.

But overall? The hardest part was enduring weeks and weeks of feeling less than normal. The actual feeling-less-than-normal part was not as bad as, say, how I felt immediately after surgery.

Knowing what I know now, if I had to do it all over again I would still do it, and probably be more okay with it. For me, the hardest part of anything is not knowing what’s coming next.

I’m thinking of writing more about the tips and tricks I used to make chemo easier, but for now I’ll just say I did have a few go-to remedies, like banana cake and Netflix. (Thank goodness for Netflix. And unlimited data.)

And cats. Thank goodness for my cats. Wherever I was, they snuggled in around me and poured their furry, vibrating warmth all over me.

Honestly, I’m doing great. Chemo was manageable. Life is good. (I’m doing aikido again!) It’s wonderful to be alive.

But with the distance that time has given me, I’m starting to forget the worst of it. Maybe that’s a good thing. The part I don’t want to forget, however, is how to remember the lessons of cancer.

The bliss of being alive, not dead. The happy dance of putting chemo and its suffering behind me. The thrill of being able to do things I love again. The importance of human connection.

It’s a work in progress…