Returning to Cancerland

Before the mastectomy, I approached my cancer treatment with enthusiasm. I mean, chemo sucks, and radiation makes you tired and sunburnt, but killing cancer kicks ass, and I was just so happy to be doing SOMETHING. Having cancer is kind of like having a cockroach infestation–the first one you find, you’re like “OH FUCK KILL IT KILL IT KILL IT RIGHT NOW OMG SO GROSS” and you just want the exterminator to come over and get rid of the roaches RIGHT THIS MINUTE. So, you’re happy to get chemo, because it’s like having an exterminator come in and clean things out. Same with radiation. When that exterminator shows up, you’re elated. You practically leap through the oncology department’s doors on your way to your first round of chemo.

That’s what happened the first time I had treatment. Then the mastectomy happened, and that was really emotionally traumatizing and it almost broke me. But then I had this long break before starting radiation and chemo again. And during that break, I slowly got back to a normal energy level, and my hair started to grow back, and I started to feel like me again.

But now I am headed back into treatment, this time six weeks of radiation with chemo in pill form during those six weeks. And maybe more IV chemo after that. It’s like having the roaches come back–and metastatic cancer means those cancer roaches always come back–and because you’ve already been through the roach experience before, you’re not freaking the fuck out like you did the first time around. Instead of doing a happy dance when the exterminator comes, you’re more like, “Hey, thanks man. I mean, I wish I didn’t need you to be here again because I had hoped we were done with all these poisonous chemicals and shit, but I guess not. Sigh.”

So, it’s hard to muster the enthusiasm I had with the first go-round of treatment. I’m starting to realize that for whatever time I have left, which I hope will be a long time, I am probably going to be doing this crap over and over again, and the break I just got is going to be more of an exception than a norm. It’s hard to get excited about treatment when it’s now my default setting.

But, excited or not, here I go again, back into Cancerland, because honestly, I can’t live in a house filled with roaches. That’s just creepy. So, I’m shaking my oncologist’s hand, giving him a pair of “My Oncologist is my Homeboy” beer glasses as a wedding gift, and saying “Alrighty, let’s go kill some shit.” As Frank Underwood says: let the butchery begin. Again.