I’m Only Human (And So Are You)

Yesterday was the first day when I’ve shown up for my chemo appointment and have been sent home because my white blood cell counts were too low. This is very common and I’ve been told that it usually happens around cycle 3. I’m at cycle 5, so I will take that as a good sign that my body is doing better than average. It’s disappointing to know that I will now be unable to finish my chemo on September 25th, but you can’t force these things.

So, what happens now? My red blood cells were low too, so today I visited the hospital for a blood transfusion (more about that in my next post). I had two when I was in the hospital after my surgery, so it isn’t a scary thing for me. I also knew that I felt much better after the last transfusions and I was looking forward to having more energy. I’ve spent a few days this week napping and not wanting to do much. I blamed it on the hash oil I’ve been taking daily, but apparently I was just tired and had a low blood cell count.

Let’s talk about hash oil for a minute. No, it isn’t the same as smoking or eating marijuana. The oil is processed differently and I take a spoonful every night before bedtime. Hash oil has multiple positive properties for me, as a cancer patient. First, it helps me sleep at night. Second, it’s rumored to help keep white blood cell counts up. There are other benefits to taking it, but right now, I’m focusing on the first two. I’ve also heard claims that it cures cancer, but I don’t believe that. I believe it is a tool that helps with various issues associated with cancer. I’ve commented on multiple posts on Facebook that claim that yet another celebrity was cured using hash oil and have said that hash oil (and pot) are great when used in combination with other treatment, but should not be seen as an alternative to traditional medicine. That’s my personal opinion, but I have not seen a study that proved that anyone cured cancer via using pot or hash oil.

Now, let’s talk for a minute about the various treatments I’m using and why I chose to go through with chemotherapy. I have only had a couple of people try to talk me out of chemo. The mistrust of Western medicine is understandable when it functions as a profit machine and only offers certain treatments or solutions that don’t work on every patient. I get that. I also hate having to be firm when talking to someone who thinks I shouldn’t have gone through with chemo. Here are the facts – I not only have “regular” cancer, but I am fortunate enough (sarcasm) to have a second type of cancer cells present in my body and they are rare and aggressive. When faced with the knowledge that you have a ticking time bomb growing within your body, what is the right decision to make?

The right decision for me was to listen to my doctor and decide on a game plan that would include traditional treatment from the West while also incorporating alternative and Eastern medicine. Acupuncture, massage, vegetable juicing, supplements, smoothies, hash oil, and chemotherapy – all working together in the hope that we can kill off that which threatens to kill me, while minimizing the affects of chemo on my body. It primarily comes down to a battle against nausea, neuropathy (pain/numbness in the hands and feet), and fatigue, as well as the effects of having a complete hysterectomy (instant menopause symptoms).

I believe the combination of treatments I’m following are working. I’ve experienced minimal menopause symptoms and have shown no sign of neuropathy. The hash oil is supposed to help keep white blood cell counts up and considering I’m 2 cycles past when the average patient shows low cell counts, I’m ahead of the game. I’ve not lost weight, even when I have nauseous days. I’ve thrown up twice. Other than a decline in energy, which is perfectly normal, I’m thrilled with how things are going. I say we each need to be empowered with information and access to a variety of treatments in order to find what works for us.

Okay, back to talking about my current state. I guess, in a way, knowing what’s going on with my cell count makes it easier to not feel guilty for staying in bed and resting. I’m the kind of person who likes to feel like I’ve accomplished at least one thing every day and with the summer days passing by so quickly, I know there will be rain in the near future and the time for working on certain projects will be past me. I try really hard to not beat myself up about it, because I know my health is more important than a to do list right now. That said, it’s really difficult to not feel disappointed in myself anyway. I’ll get over it and there are far more pressing issues for me to be upset about.

Yesterday I was talking with a friend who is facing losing their health insurance that has been paying for their monthly cancer treatment. He is now facing having to pay the $10,000/month tab on his own, through no fault of his own. Should being unable to continue working at the place providing your health insurance force a person out of life-saving treatment? That is where I have major problems with health care in the US. We want to claim to be number one, yet people fall through the cracks all of the time. How can we throw away people like that? The Affordable Care Act has helped us to take a giant leap forward in caring for those who have been considered expendable, but it does not go far enough. We are all equally deserving of whatever care is available out there.

At the end of the day, I do not understand a system that picks and chooses who is worthy of keeping alive. Why should certain people not matter just because they aren’t wealthy?  I have to tell you that if not for the ACA, I would be in big trouble and possibly buried under medical bills right now. People say horrible stuff all of the time about not wanting to “pay for parasites” or something similarly offensive. Why are people in this country okay with picking and choosing who lives or dies? Other advanced countries have universal healthcare and we should too.

I appreciate what President Obama has achieved with the ACA and I know his original plan went much further and was hacked apart by the opposition. It’s time for people to take a good hard look in the mirror and realize that they are being selfish when they say they don’t want to help others. It’s especially hard to see people who are supposed Christians say hateful things about helping everyone equally. We can do better. We need to turn things around for the kids who will inherit the mess that selfish adults have made. Yes, we need money to survive in this society, but at a certain point it becomes obscene and wrong.

I promise to step off of my soap box after I say one more thing. I’m a little bit frustrated that people in my life who love me have to keep using me and my story in order to defend the ACA. Don’t get me wrong, I love that I have helped to give people a story about how important affordable heath care is. That said, no one should have to say, “My friend/wife/co-worker would have died without this simple lifesaving service” to try to counter people who rant and rave about not wanting to help others. It’s appalling. I think we all need to take a step back and think about what it means to have compassion for others. It’s not that hard and giving that little bit of yourself to help others means the world to many. It often means the difference between life or death as well. xoxo

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