Last week, my latest and I hope last round of chemo began; unless things change, the plan is to keep going til mid-December and then quit for good. I feel lousy: low-grade nausea is a constant companion, and sometimes it isn't low-grade. One of the drugs gives me a swollen and sore mouth, which makes eating, drinking, and talking painful. (No doubt my speech has often pained my students. Maybe this is payback.) And, of course, there is the onset of Chemo Brain, just when classes are about to begin. (What was I talking about again?)
One day, I suspect we will see today's chemotherapy as akin to leeches and bloodletting for patients thought to have "bad humours" in their blood: earlier versions of the kind of medicine that kills the disease by killing the patient. Of course, the comparison isn't quite fair, and it seems ungrateful on my part to make it. These treatments are not killing me--on the contrary, they may be keeping me alive. I should be thankful, and I am, for the skilled and decent men and women who supervise my drug regimen. Whatever life I have left, I owe to their competence and commitment. I can't say enough good things about them. Still, it's a strange enterprise: progress happens, but it always feels like regress.
In my many trips to the