I've seen lots. More than you can even imagine. Every time I pass through the doors of the Princess Margaret Hospital I am disgusted at the horrible, horrible way cancer treats people.
First of all it doesn't care about your age. Secondly, it doesn't care if you are thin, stout or well built with a body like that of Lance Armstrong. And finally, cancer has no regard for what part of your body it takes. It could be your eye, your liver, your lungs and even your nose. Yes... your nose.
Last week I had to endure another week of trial chemo treatments at the hospital in Toronto. A routine that happens every four weeks now and it sucks. Five days in cancer camp, as I like to refer to it, because like a child who doesn't want to go to summer camp, I'm whisked from my family and friends and subjected to hospital needles, tubes and IV bags. And to top it all off, there is no TV in my room and limited internet access at the Princess Margaret Lodge. I am a prisoner to this disease and I despise it.
I am thankful, of course, for the cheap room and board at the Lodge but I am also angry about the fact that I even know about the PMH Lodge and what it looks like from the inside. My hope is you never do.
Back to the nose. While withstanding all that I have, I was flabbergasted last week when I witnessed for the first time, a man with no nose. Think about it. A man with nothing but a hole in his face. It was covered thankfully by a tiny hospital surgical mask but the dark area around the edges of the mask and the fact that the mask was completely flat against his face told me that this man had no nose. Gone! Deleted from his well aged greying head. Just eyes and a mouth, no nose.
I tell you 'Cancer' does not care. This ugly disease is really beginning to piss me off. I felt so sorry for the man. Not only does he have cancer to deal with but he hasn't got a nose. I still can't get over it. I overheard him tell another person at the Lodge that he was done for two weeks and was returning home to be with his wife. I can't image his life at home. I'm sure his wife loves him very much and his children will be thrilled to see him but without a nose he must be absolutely terrified. I know I would be.
I have been extremely fortunate that my outer appearance hasn't been effected to much by my battle with this disease. I haven't lost any hair with the chemo nor have I vomited... Yet! I am getting more and more nausea with the pills I am taking on this trial. I thank God everyday because I hate to vomit. It hurts my chest.
I thank God for a lot of things these days. 1. I am still here for starters. 2. I thank God that I am still in one piece and able to do most of the things I have always been able to do. My breathing is getting more laboured with exertion but I have to say I'm doing alot better than I thought I would be at this point last year. And 3. I am finally starting to look forward to things instead of wondering if I'll be around to partake in them.
But could I do all these things that I do and be the same person I am without my nose? I'm really not sure about that. Perhaps that's why it terrifies me so much. Then again, I should be one of the most self conscious people around with my short stature, frog-like voice, hunch back and four eyes but I'm not and never have been. I am sure I must have been teased behind my back more times than I can count but it never stopped me. People probably look at me as if I didn't have a nose. But did I really care?
The truth is that I suppose that if I lost my arm or even my nose to cancer I would learn to live with it. Terry Fox learned to run across Canada without his leg. So I can too. I have endured so much in my life I am sure I could survive without a limb or even my nasal appendage. I would just have to breathe a little differently.
So I guess my point to all this is that i am officially announcing that cancer is not now or ever going to become a fear factor in my life. Don't get me wrong. I will think of it every hour of every day because it is always in my thoughts and in everything I do, say and see. And I will, however, have to deal with it head on when I travel to Toronto and the PMH Lodge. But it will change me. It will change the way I see others and especially those at the PMH Lodge as I now feel more than ever before for people with cancer and for those caring for those with cancer, which is often forgotten about when discussing this disease.
I have come to the conclusion after seeing the man with no nose that all things are possible with cancer. I have also discovered in the many articles of successful treatments, miracles and the progress of medicine that cancer can be beaten, no matter the odds or prognosis. The bottom line is that we all must keep fighting; we must keep our membership at the cancer camp; and it is absolutely imperative that we keep smiling everyday for the rest of our lives.
Thanks for reading and sharing.... next blog, May 19, 2009... (I promise!)