yesterday at the doctor, i asked how much longer i might be on my trial drug. the side effects aren’t life-altering, but they do exist – fatigue, joint pain, skin issues. the drug has helped my body make a miraculous recovery, and if necessary i would stay on it forever. but i’d rather not. my oncologist said that if i continued to have clean scans for a year, that i could potentially be finished with the treatment. that would be next february. amazing.
modern medicine has kept me alive, but at what cost? by all accounts, i probably shouldn’t be alive. yet here i am, and i’ve paid a steep and dramatic price for staying alive. the painful swelling that i’ve been dealing with this past month is just one of the many afflictions that continue to plague me. i’m starting to bruise from the inside with the pressure from the edema, and i’ve gone from a size 31 to a 34 just to make room for my swollen limbs. a fellow melanoma survivor is in the hospital this week, for the second time in a month – such is our lot. but is it worth it? of course it is. a half-life, a life of injury and pain and fear, a body left ravaged, maligned and immunosuppressed – it is still a life.
an old friend passed away recently after refusing treatment for a rare cancer. i respect her decision, and i understand how the terrible toll exacted by cancer treatment can make for difficult choices – but in the end, i don’t actually understand. yes, treatment is awful, and it can kill you just as quickly as the cancer itself. it can destroy you. it can tear your life to shreds. but a half-life is still a life. i would gladly vomit on the subway and lose all my hair and endure pain so severe it hurts to move, just to have another year with the people i love. and i would guess that sentiment has helped to keep me alive.
whew! after that high intensity kind of thing, i find it’s helpful to cleanse the palette a bit. so here’s an index of hospital slang for your enjoyment. be warned, not exactly for the faint of heart.