Last Wednesday Dr. X, my new Oncologist, was straight with me in response to my many questions about the side effects of chemotherapy.
"Listen, this treatment will be hard. And, yes, there will be side effects. There will be discomfort and maybe a number of other things will show up as well. You'll be fatigued and quite likely get diarrhea, nausea and even vomiting. Your skin, especially on your hands and feet will likely get really sore. But it's only for five and a half weeks. We're saving your life here. You'll get through it; I need you to Buck up!"
As tough as it was to hear, it was a trust building statement. Many of the other answers Becky and I got from Dr. X confirmed that she was a great choice. She listened and responded to all our concerns. And I left feeling like I was in good hands.
Earlier in the day, I received a very detailed document from the MD Anderson Cancer Center, who I had contacted about a second opinion. It laid out their complete treatment approach to Stage 3 rectal cancer. Their standard treatment aligned almost exactly with what my doctors were recommending for my specific diagnosis.
With my emerging trust in the recommended treatment process, the medical team that supports me, and all the love, thoughts and prayers made on my behalf, I've decided to officially move forward with treatment.
This afternoon I have my "laser" mapping appointment for radiation treatment, which means they'll figure out precisely where on my body the radiation will target. The chemo drugs are on order at the speciality pharmacy. Chemotherapy and radiation treatment will likely begin in the next week.
Internally, I’ve resisted making a final decision on this treatment because it leads me into my deep fears. Fear of the unknown. Fear of the side effects. Fear of the long term effects. Fear of surgeries. Fear of my own mortality.
"Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is far more important that fear.” says James Neil Hollingsworth.
Oh, fear is there all right. In full force. But, it is time to proceed. Something is more important right now.
John Wayne reminds me. “Courage is being scared to death… and saddling up anyways."
I’m saddling up. Reluctantly courageous.
I’ll keep you posted as my treatment proceeds.