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Feeling not-so-fantastic

In The Breast I Can Be: Finding Purpose in Breast Cancer

Jo Lee Ferguson

By Jo Lee Ferguson
Aug. 19, 2017 at 9:43 p.m.
Updated Aug. 19, 2017 at 9:46 p.m.


I sat down to write several times in the past couple of weeks and stopped, because I couldn’t figure out how to write factually about my first chemotherapy without sounding like I’m complaining.

And I’m not, and I don’t want to do that, because, truly, I have nothing about which to complain. A friend of mine from church once talked about the idea of why bad things happen in the world, about how God created a perfect, beautiful world but it has been unraveling ever since we humans messed it all up. That has resonated with me through this. I have no reason to expect I should lead a trouble-free life. No one is immune to the trials of a fallen world.  (Of course, there also are bad things that happen because people do bad things, but that’s a different story.)

Through everything that means, though, God’s promises to us remain true, and the strength and comfort he gives to us are constant. He provides so much good for me, and that’s where I hope I can keep my focus through this bump in the road.

I think, though, that it’s OK to just be truthful: This hasn’t been the most pleasant couple of weeks, and some days I just don’t feel fantastic

I’m also not quite sure what to do with that. I normally live pretty close to the top of the mountain in terms of how I feel. It’s weird to live, even temporarily, somewhere below the summit while I undergo treatment to hopefully keep my breast cancer from returning.

From what I understand, chemotherapy affects everyone differently. I was on fire the day of and the day after my first treatment. I went for walks. I drank my water like a good girl. I took the kids to the children’s discovery center downtown (Longview World of Wonders.) I ate really healthy meals.

Days three, four and five were a different story.

My stomach hurt. I pretty much stopped eating, because I just didn’t feel like it. (A friend’s vegetable soup was about all I could stomach.) The anti-nausea medicine I received through an IV just before the chemo did its job – I didn’t throw up or ever feel nauseated, but it also had its own negative effect on my inner workings. I felt like I had the flu a couple of nights.

That passed, but I’m taking another medication every day as part of my treatment, and it kicked in pretty quickly with back pain and tummy issues. I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say that’s kept me on a gastrointestinal roller coaster I didn’t know existed.

My white blood cell counts are pretty low, now, so I’m going to bed earlier than I have in years and I’ve become a broken record: How many times can one mom tell her kids, “Cover your mouth when you cough?”

In short, treatment to keep my cancer from coming back is pretty much what I expected. Unpleasant.

In the middle of all of that, though, I watched my 3-year-old experience pure joy when he picked out his clothes and dressed himself without help. (Sure. He put his underwear on backwards, but really, who doesn’t have that problem occasionally?)

My 8-year-old – who I know is struggling with a lot of this – asked me how I felt one day. When I told him I was a bit tired, he proceeded to pile pillows and blankets on the couch so I could take a good nap while he and his brother caught up on their favorite television show. Some good sleep followed.

My sweet husband ordered the Wonder Woman wig I had been eyeing since early this summer. He honored my request to order one for a friend of mine, too. I expect one day soon you’ll see us wearing our wigs around town – because I’ll be bald and she’s just the kind of friend who will wear a fun wig with me.

I just can’t help but be a little excited, because seriously - how often does a girl have a reason to wear a Woman Woman wig that doesn’t mean she’s a little off her rocker?

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