Every cancer patient’s chemo treatment is different - different drugs, different doses, different effects. But overall, I think chemo gets a bad rap. The general public is horrified and frightened upon hearing its name, imagining Holocaust-era victims looked haggard and starved by its application. That isn’t the case for the majority of recipients, including me. In fact, Chemo has its advantages. I believe some education is needed, so here are a few of them:
- No more shaving. Body hair tends to thin during chemo. I don’t have to shave my armpits, and my legs remain smooth for months at a time without the application of a razor blade.
- Frizzy, fly-away hairdos are a thing of the past. With less hair on my head, my hairstyles tend to be sleeker and flatter, a boon for those of us with kinky, tangled fros.
- Women at least will appreciate this one – Pubic hair coverage shrinks to a small and dainty triangle, making me feel younger and more feminine. The normally unkempt swatch marking my genital area is all of a sudden cute again.
- Better nutrition. Cancer elicits a sense of loss of control. As a result, patients take control where they can, which in my case involves an improved diet. I have real incentive to eat healthier because – well, it might help.
- Weight loss. The fact is that most Americans are overweight. Chemo tends to cause nausea. Patients are unable to eat normally for a day or more during each chemo cycle. This, combined with chemo’s tendency to deplete muscle mass, leads to weight loss.
- Chemo reduces stress. Because infusions take all day, it makes me slow down. Cell phones are forbidden in the infusion room, so I am not clinching high-powered deals or negotiating multi-million dollar contracts on chemo day. I am forced to relinquish myself to a more relaxed state. Sitting still for a long period of time reminds me, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” The stresses of work, children, spouse and bills fade in comparison.
- Chemo grants me a vacation day once every three weeks! That’s almost as good as the Swedish government!
- I could be mistaken for a teenager because of all the chemo-related zits on my face. Who wouldn’t want to be carded at 45?
- I have a valid excuse for not exercising – the ‘hand and foot syndrome’ caused by my drug regiment leaves my feet red-hot and sore when walking more than a mile. I really do have to sit on my ass and eat (sugar-free) bonbons.
But the number one advantage of chemotherapy, a ‘plus’ that cannot be beat by aspirin, anti-coagulants, or caffeine? I get to live.