What could possibly be worse, I thot. This will only be 4 yrs, I thot. We'll survive, I thot...that was until Jan 24, 2017 when I became a cancer patient, then shit got real. This blog is mine. It's about my thots, my worries, my battle, my triumphs. As the url hints-there will be adult language thrown in. It may not be easy reading at times, but this is my life at stake and it feels great to say "fuck cancer".
Sunday, February 16, 2020
Cancer is a Pain (Part Two)
not much written in the “cancer space” about what happens AFTER chemo. Side effects, the lasting memories – physically and emotionally – that
stay with you when living with cancer. For the long list of side effects that could
manifest at some point in my life, coupled with side effects I currently
have as a result of treatment – I needed to find coping mechanisms that would
help me physically as well and emotionally survive living with cancer.
can be a tricky deal. You can’t see it. It doesn’t show in blood work, on an x-ray,
ultrasound, MRI, CT Scan, etc, so how do you treat it? Is it just in your head?
Is it real? When I swore I could still feel my breasts even though they were no
longer there, was that pain real? Sure felt like it. Sustained pain can lead to depression, anxiety,
mood swings, you get the ugly picture.
developed pain in my left (cancer side) clavicle area post treatment. It
reaches up through neck area and my shoulder and while not constant, it can be debilitating –
physically, and mentally - while its hanging around. Bone scans post treatment
confirmed severe arthritis in my sternum. I also have neuropathy of my hands from the chemo. It's a constant pin-picking, tingling in my finger tips, making buttoning up clothes not only a chore, but painful. And it seems I also retained the real and terrifying
anxiety which grew to fever pitches at times during treatment. So of course,
when my shoulder hurts, when I'm unable to button my shirt, on days when my chest feels tight as if I'm suffocating, it affects my anxiety levels not just because of the
physical pain, but also mentally because pain can be a sign that cancer may be
back. Gawd. It is a vicious and unhealthy cycle that I knew I had to find ways
to cope with.
many of you know, I frequent Gilda’s Club of South Florida (www.gildasclubsouthflorida.org).
There, I have found camaraderie with others living with cancer. Just being
surrounded by others who understand your journey with cancer from a first-hand perspective;
to have validation for your feelings, your fears, and your hopes is some powerful
stuff. For me, Gilda’s offers an opportunity
to hug, comfort, strengthen, and continue to heal my psychological side
effects. It feels good to walk through the red door and be greeted by staff and
volunteers who know you and who care about you and your experience at the most
difficult time of your life. I encourage you to look into support groups. You
will find them to be uplifting, compassionate, caring and hopeful. Not what you
might think when a bunch of frightened, “some are dying, some are terrified they will
joining them” sitting in a circle staring at each other, with no agenda for
the evening except for what comes to top of mind of said frightened, “some
are dying, some are terrified of joining them” folks, but truly, give support groups a
try – your heart will grow in size and you will be pleasantly surprised.
have found it more difficult to finds ways to cope with the more physical souvenirs
of having cancer. The fore-mentioned-clavicle issue, body parts that have been
removed – not by choice but by “having no choice”- leaving behind a chest that
is numb, yet very sensitive, armpits that ache most of the time because of
lymph node removal but also because my chest scars reach. Look, I could on and on, the point is rarely
does “conventional” medicines touch them at peaked consistency. And for me, a sustained
period of pain, can also weigh heavily on my mental state.
so I turned to the substance I enjoyed in, let’s just say, “back in the day”………weed.
I am a proud, card-carrying member of the legal medicinal cannabis club. Legal in the
state of Florida, since 2016, medical cannabis helps me cope with living with
cancer. I am grateful it is legal in Florida. I recall a certain someone transporting
“cookies” from an “acquaintance” across state lines for me during chemo,
attempting to avoid making any eye contact with White House patrols and praying
for no tire blowouts on the Mall. I can attest to the theories of weed helping with the nausea of chemo.
Today, being able to see a doctor for a "prescription", walk into a clinic, flash my Florida Medicinal Cannabis Card, and purchase
cannabis legally is a freedom in a space that otherwise is set in darkness and constant
concern about "what's really in there" and over being detected. I find the THC and the CBD in cannabis provide relief
from the physical and as well as from the psychological affects of living with
cancer. Yep, I have effectively incorporated pot into my tool box of coping with cancer.
Look, its clear the medical community has a LONG way to go to understand how to
effectively utilize cannabis in the areas of pain management (I’ll save those stories for
another time). While it is a bit of the "wild, wild, west" out there, it's heartening to see increasing interest in research and in trials with medical cannabis in the areas of pain management and cancer - and many are showing great promise. If its a course of treatment available to you, there exists enough “expertise” out there if you search far enough
to get started. I understand smoking, vaping, and or utilizing oils is not for everyone. Using cannabis today is not just your "pothead" stereotype of yesteryear. Due to precise dosing and standardized growing regulations, many of us are living very controllable, responsible, adult-like lives. Without getting all political
about it, I will tell you I am grateful to have found something that works for
me. If you are among the skeptical, I urge you to set aside your stereotypes and judgements - and listen to testimonies of folks who have found relief.
There will be more in this blog about this topic.
Look, this is my life. These are the cards I have been dealt. Weed
and all! Onward.