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All Fun & Games Until Somebody (Me) Barfs

Holy crap - how is it already June?!

Last week wrapped up infusion #9 - if I’m remembering correctly. I’ve had so many of them it’s kind of hard to keep track of them, as silly as it sounds. Still on target to finish around #12 or #13, so hopefully I’ll be finished in the early fall.

I always take infusion days off of work. Not because they’re physically exhausting, or particularly long, but they’re mentally just a lot. Treatment days typically consist of bloodwork, a visit with either Renee or Dr. B. and then infusion. It’s technically called “chemotherapy” on my schedule but I don’t like that word, so I call them infusions.

The infusion rooms at Mayo are always busy. There are so many people there that are going through some real challenging shit. It’s sort of heartbreaking because if you think about it, we’re all there for some sort of cancer treatment, and most likely some sort of advanced (or late-stage) cancer treatment. A lot of the folks there are very physically frail and weak-looking. In a way, it really messes with your head because we all probably have very similar prognoses. We’re all likely battling some sort of life-threatening (if not ending) disease.

Despite having so much in common with these people, I feel like such an oddball, though. I’m young, I’m energetic (most days) and still have all my hair. Treatment days aren’t sad or painful for me, but weirdly enough they’re kind of exciting. But maybe I only feel that way because it's working? On treatment days, I get more good soldiers (in the form of Nivolumab) injected into my body so I can spend some more time on this planet. It’s so strange because I look and feel so different than a lot of the other people in the infusion room and although I don’t know for certain, I’d bet that our odds of survival are pretty similar. It’s not like I have some sort of easy cancer, despite what my exterior may tell you. That’s really hard for me to digest sometimes.

I think that’s what I struggle with the most out of this entire process I’ve been forced to go through. It’s so hard to come to terms with the seriousness and reality of what’s inside my body when I feel so “fine” all the time. When you think stage four cancer, you automatically think very, very sick people. But I don't look sick at all? Most days you can’t see the effects of my disease and treatment, yet at the same time, people with my type of cancer have historically lived maybe a year post diagnosis. That. Is. Insane. It also makes it difficult for people to understand what I'm going through. They don't see me being that different compared to pre-diagnosis (which is good), but on the inside, I feel so so so different.

This treatment has been an absolutely blessing and I’m beyond grateful for it. But I also feel bad sometimes when I visit Mayo and see all of these physically ill people that clearly aren’t having the same success as I am. I obviously don’t know their individual stories, but it’s hard not to wonder if all this is temporary and one day I’ll be here again looking and feeling a lot more like they do. It sounds like a "glass-half empty" way of looking at it, but sometimes my "glass-half full" approach feels unrealistic.

I think a lot of this has been occupying a good portion of my mind still. I’m having a hard time snapping back into “normal life” since my last infusion. So far this week in general has been a tough one. I had an off day on Monday, followed by another meltdown over nothing in particular. But once I start crying it’s impossible for me to stop and I just spiral into a state of irrationality because sometimes this is all too much to handle and process. It really doesn’t matter what anyone says, I just have to let it all out and go to sleep and hope I wake up feeling better.

Tuesday, my work had a company workshop at an Axe Throwing place and we all threw some axes at melanoma. Somehow I didn’t hit the target once, but the rest of my coworkers helped me out and shredded that thing. It was all fun and games until I started barfing and was sick the rest of the afternoon. I didn’t make it to our company dinner cause I was too sick. So, let’s go ahead and add “Lumberjaxes” to the barf bingo - what a unique one! (Side note: I think I could write a book about the art of barfing in public. I’ve really got it down.)

So yeah, struggling this week a lot. Gotta find a way to pull myself out of this funk. Cancer just sucks. Each day, I'm theoretically closer to the end of this treatment plan and somehow, lately, it feels more difficult to deal with.


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