Chores have been piling up and I'm getting behind so this is really a day off for me but I thought I'd make quick mention of a couple of cancer-related surprises. Some of you who have greater experience with this “emperor of all maladies” (or other kinds of maladies) of which I am still an amateur, may have more to say about them than I do yet.
[Emperor of All Maladies is the title of a brilliant book by Siddhartha Mukherjee subtitled, “A Biography of Cancer” which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2011.]
Among all the scary new stuff I learned after they told me I have cancer is how much time it would steal from me. I don't mean the years by which it may shorten my life. I mean the list of new items added to the normal daily routine. Here's a short list:
• Counting out pills each week and putting them in those little daily box containers. (It takes two containers to accommodate all my pills.)
• Remembering to take those pills and at the right times of day. (I have invented half a dozen ruses to remind myself.)
• Keeping track of when those prescriptions need refilling.
• Preparing six meals a day, shopping for them, cleaning up after them.
• Drinking what feels like gallons of liquid a day.
• Keeping up with side-effect prevention measures: hand and foot lotion, mouth rinses, etc.
• Napping. I've never been a napper but the chemo makes me sleepy so I lose two or three hours a day to naps.
This one's a joke, right? I've spent my entire life repeatedly losing the same 10-12 pounds (not to mention the ginormous 40 pounds I allowed to pile on and lost six years ago. Now I have the reverse problem – keeping weight on.
They weigh me every time I go to the chemo clinic and during the three weeks a month I'm having infusions, I lose weight. They told me early on that the disease requires more energy than a healthy body and now I know that chemo increases the use of energy too. So I am regularly admonished to eat more, eat more, eat more by the nurses and doctor.
I hereby offer my apologies to all the skinny people I've privately mocked over the years for complaining about how hard it is to keep their weight up. They were right - it's really hard to do.