Side Effects

When people who know I’m going through chemotherapy see me lately, they inevitably tell me that I look “great.” I’m sure this has something to do with their expectations of what someone going through chemo should look like, or looks like on television. All I can tell them is that doctors must be experts at hiding the side effects of torture — at least at first glance. I also tell them that its the steroids, since they do give me steroids with the first cycle of my treatments, and the nurses told me I would get some color in my face from them. So, it seems plausible that the steroids do help me look healthier than I feel.

But last night, as I lie in bed on my side with my shirt off, Dawn walked in the room and let out a minor gasp, and said something like, “What’s going on with your back?” Since I had no idea what was going on, Dawn described the scene for me and later took a photo so that I could see that my back was breaking out severely. This too, Dawn reminded me, was from the steroids. There seems to be so much going on with my body right now, primarily on the inside, that it seems silly to refer to it all as “side effects.” If these are merely side effects, I dread imagining what the primary effects are — aside, of course, from killing the cancer.

Today, I am pleased to report, that I am feeling better. I won’t go so far as to say that I’m feeling well — but better. I even managed to convince myself to go for a short walk, once around our block. It tired me out, but it was nice to be out in the cool fall morning a little. I’m not feeling as uncomfortable in my own skin as I was the past three or so days. Things are looking up, and I don’t have another treatment until next Monday.


More Thank Yous…

Abby & Alan for your company and all of the food you prepared for us; Aurelia & Tim for the card and the ridiculous flash cards; Rachel & John for even more cards; Rick for the card; and Phoebe for the great hat (did I already mention that?). Thanks again to everyone for your support, phone calls and emails — forgive me if I don’t always return them, it just takes more energy than I have sometimes….


5 Responses to “Side Effects”

  1. Dear M,

    I have a goodie book for you. If you trust with address, I’d be happy to send.

    I worked with somebody with her rounds of chemo, and there were some days that she could barely make it off the floor. I’m happy to say that she kicked it, and you can too. Instead of asking why, ask how are you going to live from here on out. If you’re in misery, think of how bad the little cancer feels and that you’re making it run for the hills. Visualize it leaving your body.

    And it sounds like Dawn is an amazing advocate for you. You see the stuff people are made of when they deal with the hard times. Shannon

  2. I often felt guilty when people told me I looked great–as if I were a disappointment!

    All I know is that cancer sucks. I wish you didn’t have to know it so well.

    Sorry about the break out. For me, it was the mouth sores. I mean, I broke out like a fiend, but it was the mouth sores that caused me the most distress. Oy vey. I’m glad you have a documentarian in Dawn, though. I guess. Well, I’m glad you have Dawn. I don’t know about the documentation.

    In a completely unrelated matter, I would like to note that I have the best mothers in the world (IMHO).

  3. cancervixen Says:

    Even when you are down your not out… right? The break outs can also be caused by you sensitivity to soaps that you had earlier enough white blood cells take care of the small matters. But now you will have more “allergic” reactions. I notice break outs after showering, try baby products and soap free shower gels. Good luck managing the side effects. I don’t usually dispense advise, but this one has a simple solution. I should know I have had chemo for over a year.

  4. Thanks for the tip, cancervixen. Someone just directed me to your comic strip…it’s very good. It’s nice to read something about cancer that takes a realistic (but funny) look at what it’s like to find you have cancer. You really have to go through it, or something similar, to understand it. (By the way, if anyone else is interested in cancervixen’s animated take on life with cancer, you can find it at

  5. Did I say comic strip? I meant graphic novel, of course! And here’s an even better link: I should write a post about this!

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