The nasty side-effects of Chemotherapy
Chemo attacks cells that divide rapidly, which include not just cancer cells, but the cells in your mouth, stomach/intestines, hair/nails and sometimes skin. It also creates general fatigue, which is the most difficult to treat. But the first bad effects are dry mouth, mouth sores, heartburn, nausea, and loss of hair. The main goal in handling chemotherapy is to relieve those symptoms.
The doctors prescribe lots of medications, and recommend dozens of others to use as needed. Steroids, anti-emetics (nausea), digestive aids, pain relief, and of course anti-anxiety remedies. Many of them make her drowsy, but it’s still hard to sleep.
But the remedies themselves have side effects. So you add stool softeners, anti-dizzyness/car sickness, special mouth wash, energy restoration, and appetite enablers to deal with the side effects of the side effects. And like many people she has her own medications she takes even while healthy.
The result is a huge cocktail of medications, some of which have cross purposes, each of which affect Trish differently. A big part of my job is to watch that mixture and determine/guess what’s working, and what’s needed.
As the caregiver, it’s difficult to isolate the source of the symptom because there are so many variables. It can be heartbreaking to see her suffering, and guess helplessly about which of the 25 bottles will relieve her without making the symptoms worse.
I remember from the 2003 cancer that we got better each time at dealing with the symptoms. Although I also remember that the- symptoms changed somewhat. The fatigue got worse but the nausea got better.
The nurses, and several passers-by adore Trish’s new Marc Jacobs, platform, wrap sandals. A girl must look good for cancer treatments, and she does.
I come home from CVS with an armload of bottles to add for the next time.
An exciting weekend
Finally on Friday the symptoms disappear, and Trish’s mood picks-up immediately. She is by nature a joyful, relaxed person and it’s heart-warming to have her ‘back’.
It’s supposed to be 8 (tiny) courses. I talked with them ahead of time about Happy Cancer, and they loved Trish so much that they gave us 2 more courses, including a huge lamb chop for the final plate that we were too full to even touch. They also made her 2 special dumplings that were not on the menu. (The dumplings are amazing there.)
On Saturday morning the girls and I make celebratory pancakes; blueberry for Trisha and chocolate chip for Emma and Lily. They eat with glee and eye the wrapped presents they know are for them. Last week I bought them Nintendo DS cases and a game cartridge each. We let them open them now in a flurry of wrapping paper.
The gifts are, ostensibly, from Mommy. It’s so hard for Trish to give the girls normal attention these days, so the presents are designed to fill that gap a little bit. Our youngest, Lily, always the skeptic, asks me directly ‘Did you really buy these for us, Daddy?’ and is relieved when I answer ‘No, mommy did’. It’s a subtle moment, not unnoticed by Trisha, who tears up a little.
The girls really need their Mom. But we all have to deal with this for a lot longer.
Mr. Rock Star, Please Sign my Cancer Boob!
Cheap Trick, like the Kinks, and the Stooges were the music of my youth. Trish saw Guns n’ Roses when they opened for Cheap Trick in 1986. Wow.
It’s an outdoor festival style concert and we stupidly bring no rain gear even though we knew it would rain. So we are forced to listen to the first few acts, including fun L.A. band The Willowz, from our car backed-up to the edge of the field. By the last opening band, the rain breaks a little bit and we are able to get right up against the stage. It’s the closest I’ve ever been at an outdoor or arena concert.
Off she goes toward the security guards, pushing right up front, chest puffed out, and yells to lead singer, Robin Zander, with a flirty hair flip ‘ROBIN, SIGN MY BOOB! PLEASE! IT HAS CANCER!’ He isn’t allowed to come over, but the band, security guards and fans crack up. She tries a little longer to persuade them but it’s not gonna happen. She’s a fireball sometimes.
The show is amazing. They are aging, but haven’t lost much of their swagger. Rick Nielsen is better on the guitar than he was 30 years ago, and he throws Trish a guitar pick. It begins to pour rain during the show, but that just makes it better.
Her hair swirls as she headbangs with youthful enthusiasm. And she mixes in a sexy little wiggle that draws everyone’s attention.
When I die and go to heaven, I’ll be standing next to Trish at a rock show. (That’s her hair flying left)
The Lost Finale provides some answers.
Sunday night is the Lost Finale, and Trish is riding high from a great weekend. Lost is her favorite TV show of all time, so this is a big event. She has said, and I believe her, that she would leave me if she could marry Lost. Fortunately, marrying a TV show isn’t legal yet.
Lost is Sci-fi, but it’s really about the characters. The final show is about the reunion of characters we’ve seen for the past six years, and has a strong spiritual/religious theme. For the die-hard sci-fi fans, it’s a disappointment because they don’t wrap up any of the shows scientific mysteries. But we like it and Trish sheds a few tears.
One of the major themes of the show, especially evident in the finale, is the importance of asking for help from your community. Lost is filled with edgy, outlaw characters that are lonely, not because they live in isolation but because they are so tough and self-reliant that they don’t need a community. In the finale, the characters, who are not unlike our Trisha, discover the lasting importance of community support. What mattered in the long run were the interrelationships with people they’d come to love.
If you’ve followed this blog for the past months, you’ll know that Trish is handling this bout with cancer differently. Last time she acted tough, did a lot by herself, and suffered for the experience. This time, she’s taking help and discovering how enormously deep is the love of her friends and family. It’s been a growth experience for her, letting go of her self-reliance, and taking in the help. I don’t think the parallels with Lost were lost on her. (get it? lost on her. Omg I’m so funneh.)
Happy Cancer! 101 Summer Surprises
I know this is your favorite part! I unveil the next 5 of 101 summer surprises designed to keep dear Trish’s mind off cancer and on being the vibrant chick I adore.
11) Kitchen cleaned every day: I’m the cook in the family, and Trish has always showed her appreciation for my effort by taking care of the kitchen clean-up. Obviously Trish can’t always clean the kitchen while she’s sick, but I’m doing it all the time, even if she feels ok. And since I know she feels obligated to clean the kitchen if it’s dirty, I make sure it’s done all the time so she needn’t be pressured.
12) A night out at The Source and Robin hood: Robin hood wasn’t great, but who doesn’t like a good sword fight? And The Source is a great restaurant. The Asian flavors are subtle and delicious.
13) Marc Jacob’s Sandal: These look even better in person. The wraps are glittery leather and the detail on the platforms is beautiful. Zappos.
14) Cheap Trick: These guys have been touring forever, and they’ll be back again. The real surprise was the rain, the crowd and the hilarious fun we had at an event that could have sucked.
Sourpuss (and also a “dead girl’ tank top that she will wear another time.) The leggings are awesome ($5 at Filene’s Basement.) The Dr. Marten’s Diva Darcie Boot is an instant classic. All girls must go buy them now.