Yesterday I made the decision to be finished with chemo forever. My brain told me to end our relationship ten days ago, but my heart needed to give chemo one more chance. The final straw? The inside of my teeth hurt.
Our relationship was not one-sided. Although, after twenty-two infusions, chemo doesn’t seem to be pulling the weight. Five infusions over the last ten weeks and my numbers are up, not down. Chemo is putting out a half-assed effort.
A week and a half ago, I decided that I would do two more infusions. Then chemo and I would have a month off. I did the first of the infusions nine days ago and the side effects are still with me. I can’t brush my teeth, drink anything carbonated or chew tobacco. My guts are not happy. Food has to be soft with no rough edges, (no bread). My bones hurt from the shot I am given to boost my white blood cells that have been wiped out by chemo. I feel like I am dying. Yesterday, I called the doctor’s office and cancelled my next infusion appointment.
I have written before about the things that become important as death looms closer. Time with my family being the most important. As more and more of my personality traits get lost to cancer, the more I want them back. I want to dig in the garden, ride my bike, drink beer and have a goatee. I want to bake and eat bread. I want to walk my dogs and take the kids fishing. I desperately want to finish my book. I want to do the things that make me who I am. Sitting here in my lazy boy watching bad TV is not me; it is the person cancer has made me over the past three years. I miss myself.
And so we move into a new territory. A life without treatment. Underneath the side effects, I am still young and fairly healthy. I have, as far as I know, one tumor. I have lived with unknown tumors for months without any notice of their presence. The time frame is unknown. That is difficult for my earth-bound brain to reconcile. A different challenge to face. But one I am ready for. As death comes closer, at this time, I choose life.