Speaking of butt, this treatment is a shot in the hind end. I’m not too put off by shots these days. Used to be, I’d cringe, wrinkle up my nose and grit my teeth.
But ever since I had to give myself shots a few times, I’ve become an old hand with it.
But in the heinie? The worst shot I ever had was in the heinie, gamma globulin for malaria. It felt like someone was shoving Jello into my veins.
The shot this past Monday -- actually two, one on each side -- wasn’t nearly as bad. It took awhile -- lots of liquid to go in, I guess -- but it didn’t hurt. And it didn’t hurt later, either, although the folks at the medical office said it might.
This treatment has to do with hormones and shutting off hormone receptors in my hormone-positive cancer. Simply, it helps starve the cancer.
This is my second treatment since I had a recurrence 18 months ago. Recurrences are a bad thing. They mean the regular treatment didn’t work, that the cancer is a tough one and mutates to escape succumbing to treatments.
So I entered a new phase of cancer patienthood then. We’re in the maintaining quality of life period, not trying for a cure period. There is no cure, they say, not at this point.
Well, me, I’m not so sure. I’m still pursuing alternative treatments, too, diet and detoxing, all that stuff. There’s hope there for a more permanent solution. The conventional treatments just offer time, extending my life with cancer, not eliminating the cancer. So I’m trying to find the best of both worlds and figure out what works for me.
That’s the tough part with cancer. Cancer isn’t just one thing. They can tell you you have breast cancer but there are all kinds of breast cancer, differentiated by hormones and other characteristics. So there isn’t just one silver bullet that kills all cancer. You can take one thing and it works on some stuff, another thing works on other stuff, etc.
And a lot of times the treatments stop working, or they finish off the cancer that responds to that type of treatment, leaving the cancer that doesn’t respond to grow. The treatment I started last fall did that -- worked for several months, getting rid of a lot of the cancer. But then it started coming back, in a few different places, so now I start something new, hoping it will attack the cancer I have left and knock it back for a long time.
It’s all about time these days. The alternative treatments I have hopes for take a lot of time to establish themselves. They’re based on science but it has to do with strengthening your immune system and balancing your body, putting good food in and getting toxics out. It’s a constant, relentless effort. I slip some but you have to keep at it.
It reminds me of this mountain I climbed back when I was in high school. It was a pass over the Sierra -- Baxter Pass. We were backpacking and had to cross this pass to get to the east side of the Sierra where people waited to take us home. We started out early in the morning and the hike seemed to go on forever.
We climbed one mountain, thinking we’d made the pass, but, no, there was another. We climbed the second, panting as the sun rose to heat the day, staring at the crest, seeing the pass there.
But it wasn’t there. It was yet another hummock and down we went again, into the valley and up again, on a trail covered with shale, slipping, grasping the ground with our hands as we plodded up the hill. I can still hear the creaks of the backpacks, feel the wind on my sweaty arms, taste the dust in my mouth.
It was daunting, that climb. There were moments we didn’t think we’d make it. But we did. We just kept walking, despite the heat, despite the shale, and crested the pass, finding the wide, open valley before us, pungent with the promise of home.
I’m walking through the shale right now. I slip at times and grab hold to steady myself. But I keep going. I know success is ahead if I just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Kathleen L’Ecluse is the online/projects/opinion page editor of the Daily Republic. Reach her at 427-6933 or firstname.lastname@example.org.