This column completes the three-week arc which describes what I have endured mostly successfully for approximately five years now: chemotherapy every three weeks – with one year off for good behavior (not really good behavior; the year off was to switch to a twice-daily pill, Tarceva, to be taken at home, since the previous treatment was no longer stemming the tide). It’s been my experience that these anti-cancer drugs don’t exactly work forever. Realistically speaking, if they work at all – on/in you, you take them until they don’t work anymore; then you hope there’s another drug somewhere: in the pharmacy, in the offing, in the pipeline, that the cancer won’t recognize and ignore, to give you hope that as a patient, you haven’t run out of treatment options. And so far, as you regular readers know, my body’s tolerance (let’s call it “good behavior”) has been above and beyond; his “third miracle,” my oncologist says.
Two weeks ago, I wrote about the weak-week immediately following chemotherapy. Last week, I wrote about the week-of/week preceding the actual infusion, waiting for the lab results and dealing with the associated anxiety pertaining to all of it. This week, I’d like to jump ahead to two weeks post-chemotherapy, the week after I feel worst and the week before I feel anxious again worrying about new results and then anticipating the Friday infusion and the subsequent post-chemotherapy discomfort to follow. This of course is my favorite week, my week feeling most normal, my week when cancer is not top of mind, more so middle of mind. But I’ll take it in the middle, that’s a significant enough displacement so I don’t mind it there. (This may be a bit of mind over matter/any port in a storm, but when you’re in the cross-hairs, any break in the usual action, any respite from the incessant emotional, mental and physical demands of living with cancer is well worth the time it takes to get there. I never bemoan its arrival if delayed; I cherish the relief it brings whenever and however it makes its presence felt.)
Obviously, even during this third week/week off, my disease is hardly forgotten or a thing of the past. Most definitely it’s still a thing of the present. Moreover, if it were not for my ability to compartmentalize, rationalize, delude and pretend, this off week wouldn’t be so helpful. It is part of my process in order to try and secure a future. Although, it is a little challenging sometimes to maintain the illusion when my daily routine is so cancer-centric. But after five-plus years of it, the routine has become almost second nature and not, believe it or not, a constant reminder that I have cancer; more like a means not to a premature end. It’s not even anything I think about any more.
Just like the week-of, weak-on and week-off have become. It’s what I do. It’s who I am. It’s how I roll. Nothing to complain about. Something more to write about. If I had my druthers, I’d rather not be writing about life in the cancer lane. But since this seems to be my permanent address, and I’m a homebody at heart, I’ll continue to write about what I know best. It used to be sports and chocolate; now it’s about living with cancer. Living being the operative word. And you know what, it makes me happy writing about it.
Kenny Lourie is an Advertising Representative for The Potomac Almanac & The Connection Newspapers