As I travel down the cancer road, I don’t think there is much of the spectrum I have missed—chemo, radiation, shots, and now a powerfully, potent, relatively new drug with its aggregate of 1,000 mg I take by mouth. I call them the four pills of the apocalypse in deference to the great sportswriter Grantland Rice’s reference to the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” which were the four offensive threats in the backfield of Notre Dame in the Knute Rockne era before Knute died in a plane crash. Believe me, these pills have gone on the offensive.
I have been through many dark, physical and psychological tunnels, but there has always been a small light at the end of those tunnels which allows me an extended stay on this earth.
I am always willing to discuss much of my journey, including the tunnels, if anyone is interested, particularly those who might be about to experience some of what I have, or who have relatives who are about to do the same.
One of the questions that always seems to come to their mind is the question of pain and how much there is. In the case of my cancers, there has been very little if any from the cancers themselves. My cancers could be called the silent killers. That does not mean that people with other types of cancers have not suffered severe pain, because they have.
Another question they ask is about the side effects. There are some side effects that are common to all cancers, and are often the topic in general discussions. I do have some reluctance to discuss some of the side effects, because some are quite personal, and I don’t wish to be that revealing. However, if I know someone is about to experience those same side effects, I will be quite explicit in my description, because they do need to know.
A third inquiry always asks about the fatigue, because that seems to be prevalent in all cancers. I am an expert in fatigue, so if there is anything in cancer I know, it is fatigue.
But sometimes in the heavy discussion about cancer, I have to back off, and say I’m still here, and maybe I should lighten the load, and have a little pause about the situation. No doubt when I answer about fatigue, which I have found is a profound lack of energy, some people think I have taken leave of my senses. How much fatigue they ask? “Well, I answer, “I have used up all the energy I didn’t even have to begin with.”
There is generally a silence in the conversation after I’ve said that.