You may find this hard to believe but having cancer can be a bit of a downer. No, really. Add chemotherapy to the mix and you not only have a most kak disease to contend with but also a toxic cure that wipes out your energy and makes you feel like utter shit most of the time.
And while I took a decision early on to stay positive, to look this horrible disease straight in the eye and give it as much hell as only a Vaaldriehoek marabs can, it’s easier said than done. Trust me.
Because no matter what your philosophy or approach or mindset is, every morning you have to physically get up and face the day. Physically get up when you are fatigued as fuck because you struggled to sleep properly and sweated through your pillows again, fatigued as fuck because your entire body is tired of fighting, fatigued as fuck because your very cells are tired of being bombarded the whole damn time and not being given a chance to recover. Fatigued as fuck because it’s hard, relentless and never ending and awful…are we there yet? Fuck.
It’s tough but you’ve got to do it. Got to do it man. Just get up, get the legs working, get the heart pumping, get the blood flowing, get the synapses firing, get the fuck out of bed and get one day closer to being healthy.
So I made a deal with myself early on. No moping around in my gown and slippers the whole day. Ever. Fuck that noise. Sure, I get to work from home and it doesn’t matter what I am wearing. Sure, it’s winter and it’s cold and my body can’t generate proper heat because my circulation is inhibited by the treatment. Sure, it’s easier to stay under the covers and only shuffle to the kitchen every now and again to forage. But that way, my friends, lies madness.
No, not in the kitchen but in the gown my friends. Night time gown is fine. No problem. We love night time gown. Night time gown is good gown. The best gown. Have as much night time gown as you want. Revel in it.
But daytime gown… daytime gown is pure evil, an alluring coat of comfort that looks oh so inviting but is really looking to wrap you up in your own misery. Daytime gown feels fine the first day (“This is great, I can wear my gown the whole day! It’s sooo comfortable and snuggly!) but it soon devolves into a second skin of depression, sadness and surrender.
Soon you’re shuffling around bleary-eyed with no concept of the time, swopping between the couch and unmade bed for a change of scenery and getting lost in an abyss devoid of routine, structure or coherent thought. It’s a slippery slope, I tell you.
(I came by this knowledge through dealing with a slight bout of depression before – okay, it was a full blown mid-life crisis, so sue me – and was determined not to fall for the dark embrace of the daytime gown again. Some call it Gown Syndrome* and I was determined to avoid it at all costs. Still am.)
It might seem like a small thing, trivial, ridiculous even, but it works for me. Simply to get up every morning, irrespective of how I feel, and get done for the day. Shower, shave, make breakfast, start doing stuff. No daytime pyjamas, no daytime gown. Every day, without exception, from day one until the end. No excuses.
I guess psychologists would say I am “taking control back,” but the reality is that one has very little control. Every day, every week, every chemo session throws up new challenges, breaks you down a little more and makes you feel more rotten. The best you can do is to try and stay sane and emerge at the end with at least your psyche intact. So that is what I am doing.
The good news is that I have already beaten the cancer and just need to finish my chemo. That I have only three more chemo sessions to go. That winter is finally coming to an end just as I am emerging from this six-month nightmare. That I am still alive and healthy enough to get up every morning to face the day.
I’ll take that. I’ll take that all day long, thank you very much. And tonight… tonight I will put on my pjs and gown like a normal person and dream of a time when all of this will be over.
* This term is not mine to claim, heard it from friends years ago. Unsure as who exactly to credit.