Saturday, January 15, 2005

Denial, it's Not Just a River in Egypt

Periodically I will experience something--I had numbeness and tingling in one hand and fingers after my first chemo, although it went away and never came back--and I will think, 'maybe I shouldn't do this chemo stuff.' And then it will occur to me that a little neuropathy beats the alternative.

Chemo is profoundly unhealthy. I eat weird. It reduces my ability to exercise. It may very well have longterm or permanent effects. Treatment for cancer undoubtably caused the leukemia that killed Susan Sontag. But that's a little like saying if you go outside without your shoes when the house is on fire. The house is on fire. Frostbite isn't fun, but it beats the alternative.

Luckily, my course is short and the adverse effects are minimal. (I'm tired today, two days after my last chemo, but mostly pretty much normal--might be time to whip out the fainting couch.)

It's difficult to feel as if I have a life-threatening illness. It's more as if I am inflicting an illness on myself. I had no symptoms before the chemo.

Hodgkins is treated according to what stage you're in.

I'm in stage II or stage III (stage II is more than one locus of involved lymph nodes, all on the same side of the diaphragm, stage III is both sides of the diaphragm, and the PET Scan showed pinpricks of activity in my pelvis that may or may not be signs of affected lymph nodes.)

It's also divided into 'a' and 'b'. People designated 'a' have no symptoms beyond a lump. People designated 'b' have symptoms--night sweats and itching are common with Hodgkins. Since I had no symptoms, my disease, other than that cluster of tiny wine grape sized nodules on my neck, was pretty hypothetical, at least in terms of my own experience.

It's still weird to have a disease like this without ever having to, for example, spend the night in the hospital (knock wood.)

So periodically Bob and I will joke about how we've had the experience now. It's brought us closer together, made us more grateful for things, yadda, yadda, yadda, but we're done. 'Sorry Dr. Schnur, you were great, but we've decided no more Hodgkins disease. It's just too inconvenient.'

Then we get all careful again, lest we somehow tempted fate.


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