Friday, January 16, 2009

Lingering effects

Patricia from Nashville wants to know if I'm having any lingering effects from my treatments. Certainly, cancer changed me, so let's consider some of the results:

Specific to chemotherapy, I cannot think of any lingering effects offhand. Patricia speaks of bone pain and a host of other issues that were not there before. However, I do have some annoying muskuloskeletal issues on my right side. After the lump was removed from above my right collarbone, I spent quite awhile recovering, then quite awhile in chemo. This had the effect of creating some scar tissue in the supraclavicular area, as well as some muscular atrophy in my right shoulder and arm. I've been working with a physiotherapist and chiropractor on these issues, and some days it seems the more I do my exercises, the worse the problems become. Mostly this manifests itself as muscular soreness and immobility. Last week my neck seized up. It's still sore. And then my right elbow seized up, while at work, not a good thing for a firefighter. (That was the night I dreamed it was flesh-eating disease and I required amputation. Who ever heard of a one-armed firefighter? So my dream was preoccupied with figuring out a new occupation. I decided on being a one-armed dad and a one-armed wilderness first aid instructor!)

Mentally, emotionally, cancer weighs on me still, in my dreams especially. That's the hard part about remission. What if it comes back? Is that a lump? I'm not ready to go. When my time comes, can I die with dignity?

There are some positive lingering effects. I eat better. I live better. I love Anna more. I appreciate every day more. And the most wonderful lingering effect of all? Just take a look at the pictures in the previous post. Matty is here BECAUSE of my cancer. Before I even started chemotherapy, the first thing I did was bank sperm, and Matthew is the result of subesquent fertility treatments.

Patricia, you're in my thoughts and prayers and meditations. I don't think your name ever made it onto my hand in a workout. I will rectify that tomorrow.

1 comment:

Brad said...

Just thought I'd give you a story.

My mother was in her mid-forties in the mid 1980s. She had a mastectomy and several lymph nodes from the same side removed. She was diagnosed with stage-three NHL. Her doctor at MD Anderson never gave her any information about long-term chances.

When they hooked the chemo up to her aortic cath, she said, "Take THAT you goddam cancer cells!!" This was her attitude throughout the process - battling the demon (as you mention in your prev post.) She had many near misses. A spot on her lung in 1989 was not there upon re-evaluation the next day was the scariest.

20 years later, when she was released from his care, her doctor told her she had a 2% chance of surviving more than 2 years from diagnosis. She's 72 and still works 40 hours a week. She's been cancer free for 25 years.

Peace - you have a beautiful child.