One thing I have had to come to terms with is the fact that pills are keeping me alive. Many people think that I could control my cancer with diet, or herbal medicines or holistic approaches. Take cinnamon every day, or turmeric or epsom salt baths. Smoke weed. Exercise more, meditate, pray. And yes, okay, many of these things do help in certain ways but none of them will cure my cancer. Then someone will throw a story at me about some guy who was dying and then he smokes pot and gets cured. Believe it or not. I choose not to believe any of those miraculous cures. Why? Because those people are not me.
I know myself better than anyone else. Even better than the doctors who claim to know everything about my disease, when in fact, their knowledge is also limited by the cases they have dealt with in the past. I know what works and I don't need to be told by anyone who is not going through this how to better deal with it. Do people think I am not fighting as hard as I can? Those that know me will know that I am reading up on my medications, that I was never a pill taker before (last ditch effort to get rid of headaches) and that if I could I would do everything in my power to not take dozens of pills every day.
But the truth is, I have bone cancer, a very painful and widespread disease that will likely take my life in the next few years. Do I want that? Hell no. I'm trying my best to beat the odds and be around for many many years to come. However, right now, the pills I take are doing what I want them to do, keeping new lesions from forming in my bones, helping to strengthen my very confused and weak immune system, and keeping my spirits up because I am DOING something to actively NOT DIE.
One of the medications I take is a corticosteroid, dexamethasone. I take it once per week. Most people know that you are prescribed this medication to help your immune system to fight off a particularly stubborn illness or infection. It boosts your body to do what it needs to do. In my case, it is being given as a chemotherapy because it prevents myeloma cells from forming. So yes, I will take it.
But guess what, it has side effects. Like all medications, 'dex' is not perfect. Medications are purified chemicals, derived either from natural sources or laboratory-controlled chemical reactions. They are not naturally-produced inside the body so they will not perform the way a substance that is produced by my own body would perform. Even blood products, like immunoglobulins come from other people, so my body says 'foreigner' and tries to get rid of it. Although, some of it works. Enough for the researchers to say, hey this works and therefore keep recommending it as a treatment.
The side effects from dex are a headache that lasts just the first day, a hunger that comes and goes for two or three days, and two sleepless nights requiring a sleeping pill. I don't mind the side effects because I know that the bad cells are also having major headaches. They, I hope are dying so that I may live.
Other meds I take have side effects too but I deal with each one at as it presents itself and I justify them by not fighting against the side effects because that fights against my health. I work with the side effects so I can put the fight where it belongs, against the disease itself. I use all of the tools I've been given, the meds, the doctors, the chemo, the radiation, the positive attitude, the good friends and the support of my family, to fight this disease. So, even on my worst day, when I can barely get out of bed to pee, when food has to brought to me or I don't eat, when nothing tastes right and I have to take extra pain pills, I'm still winning the fight. How can I stay so positive, you may ask? Because I'm still breathing. Maybe not deeply and sometimes laboured, but I'm still breathing. And that's my miraculous cure.