I’m back on chemotherapy; have been for about a week.

On its face, it isn’t a bad thing. Au contraire, it’s by choice and part of my post-transplant regimen. It’s the same pill I was on before the transplant, just a smaller dose.

Besides, it’s the only part of my former regimen that remains. I’m not taking steroids, which changed me into a truly manic person who could not stop talking for at least two days after a dose, nor am I taking Velcade, which was given IV and meant I had to sit still for about an hour. Believe me, I was always careful not to have a Velcade treatment any time soon after taking steroids.

My doctor had asked me if I wanted to go back on this particular drug. Some doctors apparently are for it and some doctors aren’t sure it makes a difference. I didn’t ask my doctor which type he was, I just told him I wanted to get back on it even if there was only a slight chance that it would prolong what we have learned to call my remission, even though it is a misnomer.

Now, here’s the thing: I asked to be given the drug, but all I can think of right now is how ill I have felt since I began taking it again. You might think it would have occurred to me that reintroducing this into my system would have created havoc. And you’d be right, or at least smarter than I was.

It isn’t even just the fact that I feel ill all the time … after all, I’ve been dealing with my stomach issue for months, and that has made me feel less than great much of the time.

The thing about how being back on my chemo is that it makes me feel like I have cancer. I’ll pause while you let that sink in. The way I feel taking my chemo again makes me feel like I have cancer. Sounds wrong, somehow, doesn’t it? True, though.

Part of it is that some of the old pains have come back. My ribs, collarbones and just about every other bone, including the head bone, are aching. My stomach hurts worse than ever and the overall pain wakes me up every morning. With awakedness comes fear and with fear comes the internal debate about whether I want to get out of bed today, or not.

Now, we all know I’ve been through so much more than this, so why am I being such a baby about it? Good question. I do not really know. If I had to guess, though, I think the absence of feeling like this had lulled me to sleep. It’s not that I forgot I had cancer. I think that, maybe, it had lost it’s place at the front of the line. Well, maybe it was like it was still first in the worry line, but not all day, every day.

Besides, stomach pain aside, I was actually feeling pretty good. I guess I got used to it.

Here’s the thing, again: remembering I have cancer means remembering all the things that having cancer can lead to, all the possible outcomes. Bluch.

So, I genuinely believe that this won’t be a long-term thing. I think my system will adjust, and I’ll be good to go. Anyway, my guard is back up and I won’t be taken by surprise again.

Hey, I didn’t even tell you the worst part. Sheri and I were talking about it this morning. She’s seen how uncomfortable I’ve been; the lack of appetite, the grimacing. She said, “You know what? When I look at you, and the pain you’re in, I remember you have cancer.” That’s the worst part.

Jim Arnold is a former copy editor for the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel. To read more about his journey through cancer, visit his blog, findingthepony.blogspot.com.


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