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Neil Crone’s Journal
Neil Crone is an actor and writer and a national spokesperson for the CCAC. A Second City veteran improvisor, host and stand up comic, Neil also loves to write poems and stories for "big and little kids".
Neil has written a journal of his experience with colorectal cancer.
Chemo is Like Being Pregnant
I’m starting to believe that being on chemotherapy is a lot like being pregnant. In my case, I get chemo every day for five days in a row. Then I get three weeks off to rest and let the body rebuild itself. The whole cycle takes about 30 days. Like a pregnancy I can actually break my treatment down into trimesters. And the similarities are startling.
At the outset I am bubbling with enthusiasm, eager to read every book and Internet article I can get my hands on regarding the wonderful process going on in my body. I eat all the right things, exercise diligently and take good care of myself. I can’t wait to hear the pitter-patter of little toxic feet. Not having been through this before I am, of course, a little nervous too. Will it hurt? Don’t be silly, I tell myself. Why, killing cancer cells is the most natural thing in the world. People have been doing it since the world began, you ninny.
In my second trimester things aren’t quite as rosy. The wonderful process begun in my first weeks has now become, quite frankly, a royal pain in the ass. I don’t like my body so much anymore. I think I look awful. I feel nauseous a lot and I rarely get off of the couch. I’m bitchy. I wear pajamas all the time, my version of maternity wear.
Feeding me becomes an arduous guessing game. I may say I feel like eating one thing, and then the minute I sit down to a plate of it, the smell makes me gag. I am plagued by cravings, usually for things that are not at all good for me. After one chemo session I make my wife pull over so I can get a huge plate full of steak and eggs and homefries. Nothing on the plate even remotely green. I inhale it, my wife staring in shock and smiling weakly. She knows better than to object. Believe me, you don’t really want to get into it with a man in his second trimester of chemo.
By the time the third trimester rolls around chemo patients, like their pregnant female counterparts, are fairly glowing. This is, however, nothing to do with hormones or the bliss of a prospective newborn. It’s just the radiation treatments. Once you’ve been blasted with enough x-rays, you can read without a light on.
Finally delivery day arrives and my I.V. tube is pulled out of me kicking and screaming. My jubilant wife and I beam with pride. They let me hold it for a while before taking it away. The weeks go by and soon, I am feeling better, more myself. After a while remarkably, the pain and suffering of the first delivery are forgotten. And then as time passes, I find myself yearning for a second treatment. After all, I’m over forty now and there is some urgency. My biological clock is ticking away loudly.
So before we know it, we’re happily doing it all over again, blissfully unaware of what’s coming, the discomfort, the nausea, the cravings, the paralyzing fatigue. Why do we do it? For the same reason people get pregnant I guess.
We’re in love.
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