Cancer is a dirty word. Unless we have to tackle it we tend to push it to the side and pretend it’s not there, ignore the many aspects to it. It’s only when we are forced to take notice that the true extent of what it involves becomes clear
If it was as simple as being given the diagnosis, be given a ‘MAGIC’ pill and boom, it’s gone them that would be amazing. Unfortunately that’s not the case and depending on your type of cancer, and at what stage your at greatly depends on how the cancer can be treated.
Treatment can consist of any of the following:
Surgery radiotherapy chemotherapy hormone therapy
Biological therapies bone marrow stem cell
I’m sure there are others, that’s the most common. Now I can’t comment on them all as I haven’t had all of them so I’m no use on every treatment, I’m sorry about that!
Now to start, if you are diagnosed with cancer, you could be lucky in the sense that its caught early and only surgery is needed. Depending on the type, that could mean fairly straight forward surgery without any real affect on your body. Happy days if that’s the case! Thats brilliant news. I had testicular cancer so without going into too much detail, you can guess what had to be done! That has its obvious downsides, as do other cancers. These downsides can affect you afterwards and can include anything from reduced chances of conceiving to digestive problems etc. Although simple and straight forward in thought, it can still be seen as the lesser of two evils. I’d have to agree. Be cancer free and live a fairly unaffected life but have the odd downside? Yes please.
I’m aware I’m probably downplaying all this. Believe me when I say I had my issues! In fact it took me many years to make peace with it but the important thing is I did! I couldn’t let the scars, the mental torture of the consequences affect me anymore. I urge anyone reading this to do the same. Whether its cancer related or not, If something is tearing you apart from the inside out, do something about it, get help. You’ll be so glad you did whenever your life is on the up again!
As bad as surgery can be its nothing compared to the likes of chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Now I’ll talk about chemo related issues at the end but I want to start with ‘radio’. Now I never had to get it but I witnessed my dad go through it and others. My opinions on the treatment are my opinions! It’s my view on it. Those that read this may disagree with what it’s like, all I know I it’s tough which im sure all can agree!
My first opinion was that it didn’t look so bad, it was quick, or so it seemed. The people getting it all seemed ok considering. I was like, why can’t I get this instead? That was very ignorant of me though. In my dad’s case, as the days wore on, he slowly had the life drain out of him. It got to the point where it seemed like torture for him. He would go everyday, get radio for like 10 mins or so and that was it. But only he knew how it would make him feel after a few hours! The pain, the inability to do the simplest things. The radiotherapy just sucked what energy he had and even when he maybe started to feel half normal, the mental torture of knowing you had to summon the will to do it again the following day!
Yes I was wrong! But then we all have to learn. Radiotherapy is very different to chemotherapy however that doesn’t mean it’s not as destructive. Of course its tough but if it’s going to help your recovery then it’s a thumbs up surely! My nievity taught me not to judge a book by its cover. It’s the mental torture that got me with it though. The relentlessness of the treatment, how it never seems to end! With preparation though I think you could cope ok. The not knowing what your getting into can sometimes be the hardest part. Before I move onto ‘chemo’ I just need to clear up a myth with radiotherapy. People always think If your to get it your going to be radioactive! Is This true? Well in most cases no. If your treatment is external then your not radioactive and are not a danger to others. If you get what they call Brachytherapy then technically you are. So in most cases you can get on with normal life without the worry! Just thought that was something to clear up.
Right onto the big one, chemotherapy. It’s a word to me that has always filled me with fear, even before getting cancer. It’s basically a toxic poison, made up from various plants, natural organic ingredients that produce a deadly concoction to kill cancer and sometimes healthy cells too! Now there is too many types to go into but I will tell you a bit about the type that I recieved to give you an idea of what it does and what is used to make it. Chemo works by stopping or slowing the growth of cancer cells. My chemo was a treatment called BEP. BEP was made up of three separate drugs. First up was Bleomycin. It is a type of antibiotic that is poisonous to cells. It binds to the cancer cells ‘dna’ so that they can’t divide or grow. Now this particular drug wasn’t overly bad. Silly to say but compared to the other two it was small fry.
Etoposide is the second. It is made from the Mandrake plant. What is that I hear you say? Well this plant is very well known in medicine and has quite the history. Folklore would suggest that there is a superstition that people who pulled up the root would be condemned to hell and the Mandrake plant would scream as it was pulled from the ground, killing anyone who heard it. Therefore in the past, people have tied the roots to the bodies of animals and then used these animals to pull the plant from the soil. Believe that if you will but on a serious note this plant is highly toxic! To look at it you wouldn’t know but believe me it is. The tiredness, vomiting, rapid heart rate,dizziness etc etc all common with chemo are all brought on with the help of Etoposide in this treatment. When you read up on it, modern medicine is fascinating. It amazes me how they know this helps destroying cancer but then it proves how important research is!
Lastly is the P, Cisplatin. Yes I know it doesn’t begin with a P but the name it’s otherwise known as does. Otherwise known as Platinum. Yes that’s right, that very well known metal that everyone knows is highly toxic. This blew my mind when I was told I was getting this. I began to question did they realise but I knew I had to trust the specialists in what they were doing!
As dangerous as it is, its a very important part of medicine. The world health organisation have it on their list of essential medicines, the most important medications needed in a basic health system. Cisplatin is called the ‘penicillin of cancer’ because it is so widely used and it was the first big chemotherapy drug. It’s poisonous of course but that doesn’t mean it isn’t useful in treatment. The side effects can be serious but hundreds of thousands of people have been given Cisplatin and the medical establishment has learned how to deal with it.
I’m living proof, nearly 10 years after and I’m fighting fit! Yes I still have slight issues after having chemo but I can safely say I’m pretty much 100% and feel great. All that pain and suffering seemed horrible at the time but without it I might not be here to tell the tale. Yes it’s controversial, some people think there are alternative ways of doing things but I know it works and I’m glad I did it. Sometimes we face tough decisions but if you can battle on then usually you win! Any sort of cancer treatment can be daunting. It won’t be easy but those In the medical profession know what they’re doing. Trust them! You can have your doubts by all means but unless your a professional in the field too,don’t assume there is other ways of defeating it. Ask for a second opinion, do a bit of research, speak to cancer survivors on their opinions. Sometimes the saying ‘no pain no gain’ is the only way of going about it. Take each day as it comes and don’t focus too far ahead, that’s the key to getting through it.
Thats where this post was going to finish but I recently was talking to someone about treatment while writing this and I thought I’d just add it in seeing as its appropriate to the topic. The person in question said they knew someone who apparently died because they were given chemo! This got me thinking, can chemo kill you? And also can it give you cancer? After a bit of digging its safe to say you could easily be drawn into websites which are very much ‘anti-chemo’ and totally against it. The problem with that is its one sided. I managed to find a couple of articles which tried to give a balanced opinion. The one that I thought was best went on to explain that through research, in some cases treatment was likely to have caused death however without treatment the patients would have died from the cancer anyway. Many factors come into play like age, other medical complaints etc as to how chemo will react. What they did stress though was there is a fine balance between giving it and not and much consideration goes into those decisions. Doctors don’t just hand it out every time. At the end of the day there are dangers with it but cancer won’t disappear on its own. They’re trying their best to prolong your life. You always make the final decision though.