I am looking at my PET scan report. All the legions have mildly increased in the metastasis areas and I am rethinking my decision. Can you help me?
But before that, please do the following if you don’t mind.
Imagine yourself completely bald, with no eyebrows or eyelashes. With such low immunity that you can barely get out of bed, can’t be in crowded places, can’t eat, must wear a mask if you meet people, battle nausea, upset stomach, heat flushes and therefore want to faint so you can escape the miserable feeling of an illness.
Imagine between all this, you must attend an occasion; a very important one. Something you have been looking forward to for almost a year.
How disappointed would you be to attend it this way?
Imagine attending your best friend’s wedding like this? I can’t.
When the beautiful and happy announcement of my best friend’s wedding was made last December and I was declared the ‘Best Man’, it was an honour to be a part of this celebration. Since then I have been planning the wedding and how I can contribute.
The year 2016 started wonderfully for me. I was working and feeling validated, and my health was doing well too. But then it went downhill given my brain radiation, mastectomy surgery and a long list of treatments that didn’t work in curing my cancer, but instead sapped me of all my energy and health; to the extent that I am unable to work today and largely spend my time sleeping.
How then can I attend my favorite occasion of the year in this state?
My oncologist has been encouraging me to go back to regular chemotherapy. He believes that it will help me stabilize my cancer, but it would reintroduce all the symptoms I asked you to imagine.
Right now, I have lost weight to my desired amount, I have a decent amount of hair on my head and due to naturopathy treatment, I am slowly regaining energy. I am climbing my mountain again.
Hence, the thought of taking regular chemotherapy was agonizing. Naturally, I refused.
My oncologist and I have been at loggerheads for months because I am refusing the ‘best treatment’ and putting my life in ‘danger’ over an occasion I want to attend. Surely I should be more mature than that? I have stage 4 cancer after all!
But I stuck my ground. Why?
Because I am already living a compromised life. I have been living it since two and a half years and I am done being scared of cancer. I refuse to change my movie or shopping plans over a doctor’s appointment- he can see me when I want to see him, not because I fear this brand-new side effect.
I refuse to change my treatment just a month before the wedding and present myself as a shadow of who I am.
I refuse to not be completely alive and active that time and live it to the fullest.
I refuse any treatment that takes me away from me; at least till January. And this deal is non-negotiable.
I don’t mean to be arrogant or disrespectful to my cancer, but I refuse to let it rule me.
Because I am fighting for my life. For the daily experiences, the mundane problems, the TV shows, the family outings, the gossip sessions… and attending important occasions of my loved ones.
We’re told to live a life that we won’t regret when we’re on our death bed. Well, if I am not at the wedding in my present healthy self, then this will be my regret. And I refuse that.
So, the Gods that have kept me alive until now will just have to take my request and get me through this month and then I will begin any treatment my oncologist suggests.
I don’t know if other warriors get this complacent after spending so much time in the cancer universe. If they stop feeling scared after a point as well.
I don’t mean to be disrespectful to the danger I am putting myself in.
But as I look at my PET scan report and think about the decision I have taken, I ask myself, have I made the right choice? The reply comes immediately. Yes.
Imagine being drunk at your friend’s bachelors and being able to stay up all night long with everybody to enjoy the experience? To be able to dance the night away at the cocktail party and yet have the freshness to attend the wedding the next morning? To be able to stand and give your speech? To be smiling and looking your gorgeous best?
I can. And that’s how I will celebrate this occasion.
Don’t I deserve this luxury? What do you think?