Today as I sit in the “Chemo Room” I thought I would give you a sweet lil lesson on the history of chemotherapy before the Benedryl kicks in and I start seeing tiny evil garden trolls running around giving out pizza and dry martinis…(true story).
According to cancer.org, during World War II, naval personnel who were exposed to mustard gas during military action were found to have toxic changes in the bone marrow cells that develop into blood cells.That drug was the predecessor of methotrexate, a cancer treatment drug used commonly today. I have treated with Methotrexate for a few years for rheumatoid arthritis and had no idea about the connection. The history goes back even further. In the early 1900s, the famous German chemist Paul Ehrlich set about developing drugs to treat infectious diseases. He was the one who coined the term “chemotherapy” and defined it as the use of chemicals to treat disease.
An Important name in modern chemotherapy is Sidney Farber, a pediatric pathologist. He is regarded as the father of modern chemotherapy, after whom the Dana–Farber Cancer Institute is named. Farber began raising funds for cancer research with the Variety Club of New England in 1947. Together they created The Jimmy Fund, which was one of the first nationwide fundraising efforts to take full advantage of modern media, such as a broadcast of the radio show Truth or Consequences on 22 May 1948. The success of the Jimmy Fund led Farber to realize the importance of marketing in the scientific advancement of knowledge about diseases.
I could drone on and on about this, but if your like me, you’ve already checked your phone twice while reading this. If you have been touched by cancer in any way and want to read more but don’t want science babel (Sorry Dr. Schmoopy) I recommend reading: The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee. You will discover the significance of the crab on the cover later on in the book. Look for it at Goodreads.com or amazon.com .
I apologize for the brevity of this weeks read. I am still in the throes of severe fatigue which I’m hoping to level off at some point.
Today starts my “rest” week after 4 rounds of chemotherapy. Rest week is strange term for many chemo patients. The thought is, it gives your body a chance to recover from the previous onslaught of cytotoxin coursing throughout your body. When I was told about “rest week” I must admit, I pictured palm trees, waves and a gentle trade wind blowing through my oh so perfectly placed curls and “The Rock” serving me poke… The reality of “rest week” is anything but rest. You become a high strung race horse about to run on a very slippery track with 3 legs and a morbidly obese jockey on your back yelling at you in a language you failed in high school. Nothing makes sense. Side effects have no rhyme or reason and no descernable schedule. You wake up and feel pretty good only to have to sit down to brush your teeth. Feel good again but then food looks like it will sprout legs and a second set of teeth and run off the plate as you hightail it to the nearest bathroom. Feel good again but neuropathy keeps your hands and feet from working correctly. Rest week?
I understand the science behind the concept. Your body needs time to process the onslaught of various highly toxic fluids coursing around your body. No cell, good,bad or indifferent is safe from a slow and painful demise. They must all be Sacrificed for the Greater Good! If you’ve never watched the silent movie, Metropolis, I recommend it as you can get a good visual as to how chemotherapy works..
*Todays musings are unfortunately short due to fatigue and neuropathy..Next installment will make up for that…probably
Fourth position is considered an important position as it is integral to performing a pirouette correctly, to get the right “spin” I look at rest week like an out of control pirouette. You spin and spin and spin with no ability to stop the damage caused by it.
Mustering up the energy to write today is a monumental task. Imagine jumping into a pool with your laptop. You must balance yourself and attempt to open the lid. Balance the ‘puter and get your fingers to do as commanded. Only, your brain refuses to participate in this little experiment you have embarked on. Your fingers hit the keys blindly since you can not come up with a coherent thought or anything even remotely witty. Now don’t forget to balance yourself and watch out for the pool vacuum because it will suck up the cord..
This little excersize in futility is the result of chemotherapy induced neuropathy. One of many many side effects, this one is tangible. You can see it happen and are helpless to control it. The sensation of a cold glass of water in your hand or just taking anything out of the fridge becomes pins and needles, as is the feeling of it in your mouth and down your throat..This lasts about 5 days or so after the 5FU pump is disconnected. Other side effects are severe fatigue. Putting toothpaste on your toothbrush is similar in reaching K2 without any gear what so ever in flip flops and torn LuLaRoe leggings…It’s running through water without the aerobic benefits. Your out of breathe, sweating profusely and your legs feel like they are about to collapse. Fear not dear readers, I put up with this in the name of good dental hygiene and it makes my adorable dentist very happy…
Overheard in The Chemo Room last week: ” I know what your going through, my Aunt’s cousin’s brother’s nephew is going through the same thing” . “All my relatives over the age of 55 have died of cancer” “I’ll pray for you” Oh boy, that really is a touchy subject..Seems like the consensus that day in The Chemo Room was, ” Thanks, but praying doesn’t seem to be working for me”. My personal suggestion is to be careful about advising someone it’s all going to be ok. Sometimes it’s just not. If you truly want to be helpful, just be available. Don’t ask, just do.
Third position is very rarely done, though it still has a spot as one of the five basic ballet positions. The reason it is not commonly used beyond a beginner level is that a third position can very easily look like a misplaced first or fifth position. This is an awkward position for your feet. Hard to hold and rarely used. This past week was my Third Position. I had a hard time holding on and I felt awkward and unbalanced.