Years ago, I ran into another cancer patient over a clearance rack at a Marshall's store. She said to me that her chemo "hurt." At the time, being newly diagnosed and still feeling invincible, I didn't understand what she meant. I saw chemo as a necessary means to an end, something that all patients had to endure to get to a cure. I didn't think of it as hurting, only as healing.
But she was right. Chemo does hurt. It hurts very, very badly sometimes, like right now. It's four days after my latest infusion and I feel as if that bully child with the metal bat is back at me. He's hit me repeatedly across the back, in my jaw, and then jammed the bat down my throat causing swelling sores and rawness. Every tissue in these areas is swollen and emanating ache. I feel as if I'm swallowing over a bed of rocks.
The hurt can come out of nowhere – no warning, no sympathy, no prisoners. How is anyone supposed to deal with this balance of hurt vs. healing? Why should there have to be so much hurt in a situation already saturated with pain of all kinds. The need for further developments in cancer treatment is so dire. The side effects of the treatment should not be worse than those of the disease. It is counterintuitive and unfair. Our world is far too advanced for this dichotomy to still be a reality.