My battle on all fronts

My battle on all fronts

Let’s try and avoid death in small doses, reminding ourselves that being alive
requires an effort far greater than the simple fact of breathing.
Pablo Neruda

I watch the chemotherapy enter my veins and feel slightly tense. Closing my eyes I imagine the horror of a heavy bombardment which hits everything without distinction – leaving bodies and injured people lying on the ground. Mainly innocent civilians. Yet I am sure that among the fallen… or at least among the wounded… there are some metastases. I try to visualize them, imagining the forces of evil abandoning my body. It doesn’t matter that I have never believed in these things. Now it is necessary to boost positive energies. Everything must converge in decisive battle to achieve the objective. I must surround the enemy, and destroy it with every weapon at my disposal. Acupuncture, natural remedies, detoxifying organic therapies, yoga … I am fighting on all fronts. Extreme remedies are rejected, including suggestions from those who are convinced that an alkaline diet can defeat cancer, and from those who don’t believe in alternative medicine.

With dispassionate eyes I watch the fluid enter my veins. I have accepted chemotherapy without any hesitation – even though I believe that many arguments against it are well-founded. If there were a decisive cure, official or not, there would be no discussion. Research is ongoing; immunotherapy gives hope. We who are afflicted resist. We are soldiers fighting on the front lines. As long as we stay alive, another possibility exists.
So much poison, with little results perhaps! Chemotherapy is effective only in a minority of patients with lung cancer (and its efficacy is often limited) – whereas negative side effects are assured. And we all know that cancer patients represent big business. Big Pharma thrives on cancer. Each of us “is worth” thousands of Euros a month. Prolonging the life of a cancer patient means increased profits for the pharmaceutical companies… (The pharmaceutical sector may also wish to prolong the life of a cancer patient to increase profits) … In any case for the time being, I see it as the price I have to pay. Hopefully, later on I will receive immunotherapy – maybe in Cuba where it’s state-of-the-art.

In the days following the infusion a massive counter-attack develops. I listen to my body. At first everything is silent. I have learned that this is only a momentary truce: enough time for each organ to organize the reaction, the protest. And the common criterion of feeling good or bad is immediately sent flying and substituted by a different scale of intensity. The illness seems to have taken over resulting in a total physical and mental prostration that denies freedom of choice. You feel insecure, and decisions are difficult. Illness transform the most commonplace acts of life into difficult decisions – such as a simple phone call.

As soon as my forces start to return, I try to get back to my old self. In many instances, it’s a parody. I read, but my brain doesn’t retain details or concepts. I read and, after a few minutes, I have forgotten. But instant pleasure remains. The most tragic news regarding illnesses, which used to frighten me, now draw me in. It is as if I need to know that I am not alone in fighting this tough battle. I need to feel the presence of these people at my side though I don’t know them.

I watch the fluid enter my veins, and I think every drop may sustain me in my battle. I no longer care about the heavy side effects, about my existence that has abruptly taken on a new dimension. Day after day I engage in this all out battle. The battle for my life.

paola

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