100 Days of Chemo: Still Counting


Celebrating my birthday last week.

You really shouldn’t wait to do what you want to do. Because you might miss the chance to do it.

Since I last wrote, the first month into this third line of chemo, I kept waiting to feel better. Especially since I’d decided to describe this part of my journey in public. I wanted to keep this upbeat, cheery little story going to demonstrate how chipper I could be while battling the evil cancer and its enemy chemo.

It wasn’t so bad at first. A little queasy from the drugs coursing through my veins. Waking up at night with rivers of sweat bathing my chest. Fatigue that descends like a stone and holds you down. And then eventually you feel a little more like yourself and you go on with life as it is now. Intermittent healthiness.

Except I’m not there yet.

I expected to have recovered my robust demeanor, to fling off the duvet and greet the day with energy. Instead my energy peaks as I finish my exercise class, now calm and slower. Each activity concludes with a rest on my bed. Each new activity is planned with a rest in advance. It’s like the household budget: if I spend energy tonight, I need to make a deposit of rest this afternoon.

My enthusiasm has paled. My positive outlook hides. Sometimes I’m afraid I won’t ever get better than I feel today. Recognizing that has got me writing again. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life waiting to feel better. Waiting to write.

Last Tuesday I finished my 36th session of chemotherapy since I began this madness three years and 10 months ago. It might be over for awhile. Except we don’t know for sure.

There is uncertainty about a new spot that appeared on a CT scan recently. The radiologist said it might be fluid. Or scar tissue. Or new cancer. If it’s the latter, it means more chemo.

I understand now why people say, “enough.” Your body tires of the needles — nurses don’t exclaim about my good veins anymore. My hands are numb and I knock over water glasses. I walk carefully in flat shoes. I ask my 91-year-old mother to slow down when we’re out for a walk. I’m thinking of asking people to stop by instead of going out for walks or drinks or dinner or movies. I’m backing out of some of my volunteer commitments.

I’m not saying “enough” yet. There is more to learn from when the doctors talk doctor talk. An MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) might be scheduled. Using strong magnetic fields and radiowaves, the donut machine will look deep into my pelvis to find the spot and uncover its secrets.

We will see. But on a bright note, friends and family celebrated my birthday last week. Bring on the next one!



This entry was posted in 100 Days of Chemo, Living with Cancer and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to 100 Days of Chemo: Still Counting

  1. Barbara Whiting says:

    The chemo might be dragging you down but your writing continues to rise up and blossom. I’m proud of you, my wonderful friend.


  2. Barbara Quelch says:

    Your voice is as strong as ever my friend. I hope the body catches up soon.


  3. Mary Louise Doherty says:

    “Quests always have their ups and downs, rumbled the giant. The point is never to give up, even if you’re falling off a cliff. You never know what might happen on the way to the bottom.”
    — Nancy Farmer
    Rochelle, I hope you will see your own inner strength and compassion as demonstrated in all of your writings. It is difficult always being strong. Although I sincerely wish it were different for you, I feel blessed to have you walk beside me on this journey. Appreciate you. Mary Louise


  4. Nancy Farran says:

    You inspire every day, Rochelle. This journey you share with us is a special and cherished gift.


  5. Chris Mann says:

    I appreciate your writing – whenever you are able to write. You have a gift with words, and your honesty and capacity for being real – is a huge gift to all of us trying to live with integrity. Maya Angelou says, “Our stories come from our lives and from the playwright’s pen, the mind of the actor, the roles we create, the artistry of life itself and the quest for peace.” Thinking of you negotiating and balancing effort, energy and rest. May there be some peace in the midst of it all.


  6. I’m glad to hear you are doing what is right for you… slowing down to smell the roses while you go through this horrible ordeal. Thinking of you with good memories of our working days together. Constance (in Edmonton)


  7. Ariela says:

    Rochelle, you are a chosen warrior. Big hugs, Ariela


  8. Lynne says:

    You are one of my heroines, Rochelle. Much love coming to you from the Island as your path continues.


  9. Terry McHugh says:

    Dear Rochelle,
    Lots of love to you,


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