I can understand why some people decide to stop chemo and let cancer take its course. Chemo can be brutal, even the ones with lesser and fewer side effects. After a while, the routine gets in the way of life. Problems arise that throw off the chemo schedule – low blood counts, problems with veins, issues with power ports. All of this can make one irritated and tired of dealing with it. Then there’s all the financial issues associated with chemo and cancer – will I be able to work? If I can, will my boss make allowances for my frequent absences? If I can’t work, how will I pay my bills? Side effects get progressively more intense the longer one is on chemo; it’s cumulative.
I am not going to stop chemo. I’m just saying I understand why people do. My tumors are shrinking, so the chemo is working, and it’s worth it. But for some people, the chemo doesn’t work, or it stops working after awhile, and they eventually run out of options. Or the side effects are worse than the cancer. Or their insurance doesn’t cover the cost – or there is no insurance. There is palliative care, which merely controls the pain, nausea, and whatever other symptoms caused by the cancer. This isn’t hospice but just a way to make the patient comfortable.
I feel so fortunate and blessed that I have insurance, and it’s paying for all of my care, and the chemo is working, and there are ways to deal with my side effects.There is still that depression and hopelessness that kicks in every once in a while. It makes me human. I can’t help but wonder what the future will hold, especially after a day that’s more grueling than usual. How long can I keep this up? How long before the chemo stops working? Cancer tumors are like the Borg – they adapt. So I will just keep envisioning those photon torpedoes attaching the tumors; and the light shining into the dark centers and dissolving them. I will be like Thomas the Tank Engine and keep telling myself: “I think I can; I think I can…”