Life after chemotherapy is like getting a re-start on a computer game. You have been beat up a little, but hopefully you have “leveled up” and now are a stronger character. And suddenly the desires you have dreamed about but never started become a priority. Chemotherapy and cancer is like getting a kick in the ass, a wake up call. My life, your life, is but a nanosecond in the construct of the ages. I have 2 talents, and until cancer and chemo I dreamed about them but allowed the irritating details of like to suck the energy from me, so I never tried to develop them. I love to write and create poems. I love to sing, and I have an unusual soprano 1 voice. As to poetry, I am not a great poet, not even a good one, but it is a therapeutic hobby that I have sporadically delved into, writing on sticky notes, email, papers, whatever I could get my hands on when I had the inspiration. I tossed them in a pile and said, “Someday”. I moved Someday to Now, and I now carve out what ever free time I have to think and write. My poems will never be praised by the world at large, but they are meaningful to me and have a story to tell. I hope that you will be able to connect with some of them as my topics have a wide range.
As to singing, I have terrible Performance Anxiety, but I went to see a psychiatrist who has helped me with medication, and I can get up and sing without fainting now! I hope to put some songs on this site…..eventually.
The poem below was written at a time when I was overwhelmed with what will most likely be permanent side effects from Taxol. Unlike my other cancer poems, it is a bitter and anguished response to the poison that I received that has left me with problems I deal with every minute of every day. I hope this gives you a feeling of the struggles some people have to live with after chemo.
“Life After Chemo”
My body now lives a life that is split:
before the poison of chemo and after it.
I vaguely knew that this gamble could lose
with side effects that might be really bad.
But looking back I would not choose
the horrific side effects I now have.
Now I jazz to the title of “post chemo blues”.
Blue hands and feet, always cold.
Nerve damage makes them painful and numb.
I’m catapulted from middle age to old;
walking slow and difficult by the end of day.
Taste once a cake, now a crumb,
strange and blunted, gone away.
Veins fragile, easily bruised;
some days like a woman abused.
Now Im trying to find new clues
to increasing short term memory loss.
I lose items, forget what I have done.
My brain is foggy, boggy like moss;
words, hard to remember, quickly gone.
Sadness upon sadness seems mine alone.
“Wait 30 months”, my oncologist said.
“Injured nerves take time to heal.”
But I am frightened and full of dread
that nerve damage will stay all too real.
I have lost much in my battle with this beast.
I can deal with these problems if I must.
But my memory loss will finally release
bitterness in this thinning crust.