Once, some time ago, I mentioned to my oncologist some random pain or ache or other that I was currently and inexplicably experiencing. He responded, oh so reassuringly, that everything I was feeling, all the unusual and frequent sicknesses, all the random and probably harmless ailments, were a direct result of either the chemo or having had cancer or both. I posed this question while I was still in relatively active treatment, still receiving some chemo once a month. Now, 20 months after finishing any and all chemos for ALL, I can't help but wonder if I can still pull the "C" card as an excuse for current and inexplicable sicknesses.
Generally, as a rule, I don't like to bitch. Grumbling serves no purpose to anyone and usually only reinforces all the negative energy that seems to run rampant. That said, cancer sucks. Rather, cancer Still sucks. Everything that has been wrong with my body for the past 20 months, barring the one running injury, may or may not be a result of having had cancer. I honestly feel like I haven't been really and truly Healthy since probably months before my diagnosis. Case in point, I have spent the past two weeks alternating between feeling just OK, and feeling like I am dying. Haha, and that is only a bit of an exaggeration. After I returned from Moab, I came down with a gnarly little buggy that destroyed me for about a week. While I know everybody loves bodily fluids, my own body was doing everything in its power to purge every drop of anything from my insides. Pretty sure I'm still somewhat dehydrated. Although I did manage to lose about 5 pounds, so Bonus?
Then, just over a week ago, I went to see a GI doctor regarding the intestinal problems I am still having. (I brought them up in a post a few posts ago...) He thought I might have IBS and prescribed me some anti-spasmodics to help with the irregular bowel spasming. Well, those were a bad idea. The spasms certainly didn't get any better, and, in fact, I'm pretty sure I just became more dehydrated. The tips of all of my fingers actually started peeling, which, while interesting, was probably not a good sign. He had also done a blood test to check my thyroid as well as to check for markers of Crohn's disease. Supposedly, my thyroid is fine, but the Crohn's test came back with funky, unusable data. I guess my blood or something has been affected by my ALL. I'm shocked? The nurse told me this information over the phone, and I didn't understand it, but she didn't need me to come back in, so I hope it's all good. What isn't all good, though, is that following the little plastic-coated blue pills I took for my supposed IBS, my muscle cramps got worse, and Awesome! I've broken out in a sick rash on my buttocks. There's the tmi for ya. Bam. Haha. Buttocks.
So, once more, I have spent my entire day in bed, wondering what I did in a past life to warrant so many random and inexplicable sicknesses that are preventing me from running, from eating, from going to the bathroom like a normal person. The reason I bring this up isn't because I am looking for a sympathetic audience. Nothing like that, because seriously, whatever; all this will pass. What I am more concerned with is that there is no playbook for young-adult ALL survivors two years post-treatment. Can chemo give you IBS two years down the road? Or can it lead to an increased risk of developing shingles? Or will it give you the colon of a 72-year old man? I am 23 years old. My knee shouldn't be busted; there shouldn't be wicked rashes on parts where the sun don't (usually) shine. So who knows. This is all new territory for me, and it is extremely frustrating. I can't help but question whether I will ever feel "healthy" again, for any extended period of time.
In Moab, I had the privilege of rooming with a beautiful and strong woman, Phoenix. Phoenix has chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), which means she lives with her cancer and its effects on her body and mind every single day. This woman, quite literally, Owned the rocks out in Utah. She was a natural climber, and if she was afraid at all, she certainly didn't show it as she pretty much just scrambled up cracks and over some serious overhangs. By the end of the week, her fingers and her feet were torn apart, blistered and bruising. Yet she persevered, ignoring the pain and proving to all of us that a little pain wasn't going to do Anything to interfere with her FD experience. She has, like all of us, since returned to her "real" life in the city, waking, working, drinking coffee, and heading back home to her apartment at the end of the day. She has also started running since she returned from Moab. At camp, she had talked about how she frequently went to the gym anyway, but she biked more than anything else. Now, though, for whatever reason, she is throwing running into her mix of awesome. This woman's strength of mind and body blows me away. Chronic leukemia be damned, she is going to Live her life. I'm sitting here, feeling angry and sorry for myself, and for what? Because my butt itches? That's stupid. Like I said, I have no precedent for these physical ailments, but if this is what life will be like for a while, I guess I'm going to have to take a page or two from Phoenix's book and get over it.
So those are my mid-May grumbles. Hopefully you're all feeling better than I am, and if not, Feel Better! Sickness stinks. Nobody likes sickness. But thank you for reading, as always. :) Peace.
On Friday, December 8, 2006, I was diagnosed with leukemia. Specifically, Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia. That's cancer of the blood for those of you who weren't sure. So, this is my blog about the next six months of my life. They're going to be hard; I'm going to be lonely. The goal is to make it out okay. Among various other goals I'll probably be writing about later. Comments, support, laughter, all, feel free to share. Pax.
This blog has lasted a whole lot longer than 6 months. Now that I am finished with treatment, I still cannot give it up. But now it focuses on my thoughts about (mostly) my life and my various experiences with and related to cancer. Comments, support, laughter... All still welcome. Thank you for reading!! :)