The Calm Before the (Next) Storm
I’m writing this blog post from “Kailua Cottage”, a Hawaiian studio a couple blocks from the beach that I booked on Airbnb as a solo getaway spot before my next treatment. Hawaii holds a special place in my heart, as I spent two years on Oahu for work. I was here as part of a team designing a new Information Technology (IT) system for the State of Hawaii. Technically I always lived in California, but the majority of my time was spent on island at my corporate apartment. Hawaii’s natural beauty and weather made an impression that still make it one of my favorite places to visit and recharge.
The beach in general has always been a source of calm for me. There is nothing that makes me feel calm and relaxed quite like sitting on the beach listening to the waves crash. Since college, this has been a go-to activity when I need a break to refocus. Right now I need more of this calm in my life. It’s really not easy to get up every day and have a good attitude knowing you have cancer you don’t deserve and that every day after that you will still have cancer because there is no known cure for your disease.
It’s also not easy to get up every day and have a good attitude knowing you will be injected with poison (which is essentially what my treatment is) every three weeks for the foreseeable future in hopes that it will kill the cancer currently in your body allowing you to switch to a less aggressive medication. Somehow I have to find peace with this, as I don’t really like to consider the known outcome (that’d be death, just to make sure we are clear) if I chose not to continue the treatments. These are my realities. Cancer brings so much negative into my life, I have to manufacture positive situations to balance everything out.
This little trip serves this purpose; to relax, recharge, and focus on all the remaining positive in my life including my friends, family, home, good days between treatments, and the ability to recharge on the beach in Hawaii. In addition to relaxation, I’ve thrown in a fair bit of activity to continue to support my physical health including yoga on the beach, revisiting a couple of my favorite hikes from my time living on Oahu, cycling around town, and even some dance practice!
This afternoon I head home and tomorrow (Friday) is my next treatment.
Tomorrow I will show up at the hospital early to have my blood drawn into about 6 different vials and then go upstairs and wait to see my doctor. I will meet with my doctor to discuss the results of my blood work, particularly my red and white blood cell counts, any other open items, side effects, and next steps/follow-ups. If my blood cell counts aren’t high enough it will delay my treatment. So far, I have not had issues with this. My relative young age and overall health seem to help me bear the force of these treatments. I’m not expecting any issues, but you never know; I’ve learned it’s not wise to assume that cancer will act in a predictable manner.
Assuming there are no issues with my blood test results, I will go back to the waiting room until I am taken to the infusion (IV treatment) room. There I will be by far the youngest in the room and likely receive curious/envious looks from the other patients. Little do they know what I’m actually dealing with. I’ll get an IV put in my lower arm (the worst part of my day in my opinion) and sit there for about 4 hours being infused with saline and the treatment medication. My current treatment is hard on the kidneys so they have to inject it slowly which is why the appointment is so long. Once they are done, the nurses will take out the IV, cut off my wristband, and I am free to go!
Then I’ll head home and get ready to weather the storm. I have three different prescription nausea pills I’ll be balancing to hopefully prevent vomiting until the worst has passed. This is by far the worst side effect. When I walk out of the hospital, I actually feel ok. Usually even the next day I can get out of the house. The full side effects of the treatments take about 3-4 days to kick in before I start to feel better. During this time, I pull out my *inner warrior*:
“Fate whispers to the warrior, “You cannot withstand the storm.” The warrior whispers back, “I am the storm.”
Time for me to take a deep breath and see you on the flip side of this storm!