Out with ‘Quasimodo’, In with ‘Frankenbabe’

As you can see from the title, my progress has merited a change in nickname from my boyfriend. I’m quite keen on the new one! Makes me sound like some sort of hot comic book heroine. 🙂

Otherwise, I’ve had all the people I know in chemo on my mind recently. I have several friends/acquaintances struggling through the stages where it’s no longer even mildly “interesting” (for lack of a better word) as something you never thought you’d have to learn about. Unfortunately, you’re now a pro and it’s just boring to feel bad all the time. And while I did feel bad a lot, it wasn’t necessarily the side effects. It was the guilt that I really detested about chemo.

That’s right. Guilt. This is because of the amazing fact that your body is simultaneously one harmonized organism, yet somehow one part can be doing something major that the rest of you doesn’t know about. Like the tumor, of course. I used to creep myself out on occasion with the realization that just because I had breast cancer didn’t mean (technically) that I didn’t have/wouldn’t get another. Here my liver could be going about its business and decide to freak out and become cancerous, thinking it was putting on quite a show, having no idea that its tantrum was nothing new. However, I figure if my liver could know what my breast was doing, it would be considerate enough not to pull that trick (ever). It would only be fair. But, alas, there are no such negotiations.

This relates to chemo in the sense that my healthy cells had no way of knowing that all these chemicals were for my own good. So a lot of my discomfort came from the knowledge that – as far as most of my body was concerned – I was just poisoning myself. And if that’s the case, how could I expect them to be motivated to hold strong against the onslaught? If my good cells knew what was going on with the breast, surely they would understand. But they didn’t. They just saw toxins being pumped in with my permission. They told me their hurt by the bald head, the bothersome gut, the acidy stomach, the ringing ears, the sore mouth, etc. And I wished there were someway to say to all the 99% healthy part of me, “I’m sorry! Just bear with me. I promise it’s not aimed at you. And if I didn’t do this now it’d be worse for you later.” Even though I technically felt fine during my chemo drip, it’s a real mind bender (the real phrase I want to use is quite impolite) to go somewhere, sit down and just let them pour gasoline into your veins. That’s where the associative nausea came from. I wonder if it’s the same for other patients?

I say all this not to put creepy ideas in the minds of women who might not have them already. I say it because I haven’t seen it said before and it’s no small “side effect”. If I am the only one, well, now you know my neuroses and I’m glad that others don’t have to deal with that guilt too. But if I am not the only one (as I suspect) than I say it to sympathise and say, I don’t forget how crappy it was. But my body understood in the end, and yours will too.

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2 Comments

Filed under breast cancer, chemo, life, reconstruction ("upgrade"!), recovery, this time THIS year

2 responses to “Out with ‘Quasimodo’, In with ‘Frankenbabe’

  1. Wow.Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. I’ve never heard anyone talk about guilt as it relates to chemo but if it’s an issue for you then I’m sure it’s true for thousands of women around the world. Thanks again for being open about your feelings.

    BTW, please e-mail me when you get a chance. I have some follow-up questions for you if you don’t mind helping me out.

    -joel

  2. Hmm. I never thought of it in exactly that way before. I kind of took the “Agent Orange” outlook in that I was willing to do whatever it took to flush out the little cancer buggers from their hidey-holes within my body even at the expense of my otherwise healthy parts. Thanks. Now I have retroactive guilt. 😉

    I love the image of a kind liver that would consider your prior suffering before “freaking out”. You obviously have the internal organs of a single woman. I believe mine would demand equal time and “freak out” purely for attention like a petulant toddler. Ha!

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