Close my eyes and keep going

This is yesterday’s Facebook post, which updates with the latest medical news. In some ays it’s grim reading – it’s going to be a fucking hard 6 weeks – but, as I keep on saying, it’s better than cancer:

I went back to the hospital this morning to meet the chemo doctors ahead of treatment beginning next week. I’m ever hopeful of meeting a doctor and them telling me ‘actually it’s not so bad’, or ‘it’ll be a walk in the park’. The closest I’ve had to that was a surgeon last week telling me I’ve done very well. Today, they looked at me sympathetically and told me to hang on tight.

Rather than weekly, I’ll be getting chemo every three weeks, but at a much higher dosage. The good news is that I shouldn’t lose any hair, and combined with radiotherapy, it should increase the chance of a permanent cure – i.e. no recurrence – to 70-80%. The bad news is that in combination, I’ll be knocked about terribly – mouth ulcers, fatigue, loss of taste for up to 2 months after, possible loss of hearing or tinnitus in my right ear – maybe even permanently, and the strong possibility that I’ll need a feeding tube.

I can’t do much about most of those things, and regardless, all of it’s better than cancer. I don’t look forward to it, but I’ll be on morphine to manage the pain.

One thing I don’t want is a feeding tube, but that very much depends on how much weight I lose. Mouth ulcers will make it very difficult to eat, along with general nausea, but I must keep my strength up.

In the aftermath of my operation, I figured I was left with about 20% of my pre-surgery strength. With consistent eating, I reckon I’m up to about 40% now. Hopefully, I can get it up around 60% by the time I start treatment. It’s not ideal, and no matter where I get it to, it will be much less come the end of October.

I reckon I’ve put on weight, but as a measure of how much I’ve lost, my jeans keep falling down, and that’s with the belt cinched to its tightest. The rest of the time, I look like a hip-hop artist or a skateboarder, and I’ve ordered a smaller pair online so I can go out in public with some dignity. I may need to go another size down when I’m finished.

All this must happen. I can try to boost my weight and strength, but there’s no avoiding this treatment if I want to survive. I just have to make the best of it.

I start next week and finish in early November. They tell me it takes about nine weeks of recovery until I begin to feel normal. That takes us into the new year. By then, my taste buds should be back on duty, my vision cleared up, and, I expect, my hearing normal. I’ll be fully mobile by then, and even if there’s still some swelling in my face, all the stitches will have released. I’ll be able to smile again, eat properly, and hopefully be as eloquent as I ever was. And, it will be party time.

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