If you’re getting ready to type me an angry e-mail. I ask that you stay with me for next 900 words, and then send me the angry e-mail.
There are roughly 1.7 million new cases of cancer in the United States for 2017, with about 16,000 of those being in my home state of Arkansas. Arkansas has a population of 2.9 million, meaning that about 1 out of every 181 Arkansas residents will be diagnosed with a new case this year. To put this bluntly, you will be affected by this disease in one or another.
While there were 1.7 million new cases, there were only about 600,000 deaths in 2017*. The medical field has done a very good job with studying and treating certain cancers. I say certain cancers because a lot of the rare cancers are not well-studied, we do not have effective targeted therapies against them, and funding for research into those is lacking. This is according to research done by the American Cancer Society. (https://www.cancer.org/content/dam/cancer-org/research/cancer-facts-and-statistics/annual-cancer-facts-and-figures/2017/cancer-facts-and-figures-2017.pdf)
*For prospective, “other endocrine cancers” which is where I fall, had 2,380 new cases and 1000 deaths in 2017.
Diet and Exercise
“You’re so level-headed about this”
That is very easy when you have a normal routine to keep your mind going and not focus on how things are affecting you. On the days when my legs swell up and I can barely walk, it’s much easier to find myself dwelling on how far I have physically deteriorated in the last year. It’s one thing to have stomach issues, because those are common and easily dismissed. It’s different when you are no longer able to take care of yourself.
So after my doctor gave me some time off, I decided to work on getting back into shape. I started at 195 LBs, which the heaviest I’ve been in my entire life, mostly water weight, and I am determined to get back to my normal weight of 155-160.
Before getting sick, I was semi active, 3-4 times I would go out and walk or bike ride. It was no issue for me to bike 10-15 miles at a time and I’d do it for fun. Now, sometimes I can barely walk to my mail box and back (2/10 of a mile). To say that is hard to cope with is an understatement.
Since the beginning of October I have been able to build myself back up. I have been able to ride around 6 miles and I can walk 4-5 miles at a time. I intend, even as treatment starts back up again, to keep going…Although I am not going outside to walk or bike ride in this frigid weather.
There is a lot of information about what you should/shouldn’t eat while receiving chemo. The problem is, sometimes things just do not taste the same. Your taste buds might be affected, so I want you to think of your favorite food…..it now taste like wallpaper paste. So trying to balance your diet when nothing taste good is a challenge.
The American Cancer Society released a book with simple recipes that I will begin using when treatments start-up, so hopefully I can give some feedback once I use it. Otherwise, as a nurse told me “it’s more important that you get some calories then try to and fail to choke down some strict diet.” (What to Eat During Cancer Treatments)
Now we’re onto the fun part! (J/k…..kinda)
Besides the chemo I take steroid supplements (not the kind Vince McMahon went on trial for distributing), pills for nausea (usually Zofran or Compazine), pills for pain (oxycodone) and anything else that my blood shows I could need at a given time.
So besides the side effects from the chemo, or radiation, I also deal with the side effects from all the supplement medicine I take as well. Needless to say, I never know for sure what is causing my problems.
Not working doesn’t make much money….that should be common sense. But that is the reality of it, my disability is about half of my take home salary from when I was working (I’m an accountant by trade, and no, I don’t want to help you with your taxes). The problem comes in your “unusual” expenses begin to pop up, think property taxes, or an unexpected home repair. To understand how this stresses you out, draw up your budget with your bills, cut your income in half and see how much you have left over. Now imagine adding something unusual to that and see where you stand.
This is definitely my main source of stress, plus the medical bills. My insurance is good (Vote Doggo Party), but co-pays and medicine do add up eventually).
I’m currently living with a disease that can very likely kill me, has broken me physically, sometimes mentally (I’ll cover that later), and left me scrapping pennies to get by. So why do I love cancer, I don’t, and no one should (if you are reading this because someone shared it solely due to the title, please tell them it was click bait for a reason, and they failed the test). But I have seen an incredible amount of good in people since being diagnosed, so it has restored a little of my faith in humanity.
P.S. I will be writing on some of the bad advice I’ve seen on-line, but I want to spend a little extra time researching that.