COLUMN: One step closer

Published 10:17 am Tuesday, January 16, 2024

My wife – and several people around me – keep saying “one step closer” every time I undergo a treatment for the cancer I’m dealing with, to the point it’s almost become my motto at this point.

Last week was my fourth treatment week for this round of chemotherapy – the halfway point of this round – and I had to keep repeating to myself “one step closer” and “we’re halfway there” because it’s getting harder and harder every time.

Doctors told us that as we go on it’s going to get harder on my body – and harder mentally – as the chemo weakens me and beats me up. This last week was the hardest I’ve gone through so far. I had to make myself go to the Oncologist that Monday morning, and it wasn’t easy. I had dreaded the entire weekend previously.

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As I sat in the chair waiting for one of the nurses to bring out those giant bags of “FOLFOX,” I literally broke down as my wife tried her best to comfort me. I knew it was going to be bad and boy, was it.

Previously by about Thursday night or Friday of a treatment week I started to feel better. While the nausea would come and go after that, it was nothing like those first few days. This time, though, it was full force for the entire week. I had times where my vision went blurry, I felt like I would pass out and the nausea and dizziness was almost unbearable.

On Saturday, I finally started to feel a little better and went with my wife to a family dinner to celebrate her “granny’s” birthday. About a quarter way into my meal, it hit me all over again like a sledgehammer to the gut. My face started twitching and the nausea was back with a vengeance.

One of the things that’s hard to really explain to people is how much of a burden you feel to the people you love at times. I knew my wife wanted to visit and spend time with her family, but I had to get out of there. I know it has to get tiresome to hear me complain about it all, too. I can’t even start to explain how badly I hate these treatments, but we’re one step closer.

One of the things that I’ve sort of taken pride in over the last few months is when people tell me that I look strong or that they can’t tell that I’m struggling. I think I was able to hide it the first few rounds of this treatment but last week there was no hiding it. Everyone around me could tell that I was miserable. Still, we’re one step closer.

I’ve said this many times but the fact that people are constantly telling me that they’re thinking about me, that they’re rooting for me, absolutely helps. I think sometimes people don’t realize how much encouragement can help someone struggling with something and I’m not just talking about health issues. We never know what someone is going through – whether it be physically, mentally or both – so, if you don’t think you know what to say to someone that’s going through something just give them encouragement. That’s all it takes sometimes; trust me. Even something as simple as, “Hey, you’re one step closer” can help push that person through a tough day.