Dancing in the Rain: Lessons Learned on my Personal Journey with PD (more at www.PDPlan4Life.com) Copyright 2013-16 Sheryl Jedlinski
By Sheryl Jedlinski
I awaited the start of chemotherapy with both fear and hope; fear as to how my body would react to these powerful toxins; and hope that they will send my cancer into remission. While not a cure, remission may temporarily relieve symptoms, slow cancer’s growth, and help extend life long enough for new, more effective drugs to come to market. Sometimes, that’s all it takes to beat the odds; and I intend to do just that.
Planning for the worst, and hoping for the best, I started chemo last week, prepared for loss of appetite, nausea, and fatigue, as well as hair loss, the hallmark side effect of chemotherapy. What I didn’t expect was the severe hypersensitivity I experienced within minutes of receiving only a few drops of my first chemo drug, despite having been given intravenous antihistamine first. My face turned tomato red; an intense heat took over my body; my chest and throat felt like they were tightening up; and my blood pressure plummeted to 80/60. I was terrified that this drug that is supposed to help save or extend my life, could just as easily kill me. Twenty minutes later, though it seemed like an eternity, my symptoms dissipated after a megadose infusion of an antihistamine. The nurses then administered the second chemo drug that is part of my protocol and it went without a hitch.
Everyone assured me that by today, my oncologists would have chosen a similar drug to the one we discovered I am allergic to. The silver lining is that this new one uses a different, more effective delivery method and my body accepted it well.
Living well with Parkinson’s disease for 17 years has taught me the coping skills I need to survive cancer. I don’t dwell on my prognosis or survival statistics calculated as an average of people who may have very little in common with me. Every morning I wake up prepared to fight another uphill battle against my most formidable foe. Still, I feel like I have a headstart thanks to my surgeon, who for eight hours tirelessly debulked every bit of cancer she could find in my body, leaving only a thin coating for the chemo to take care of. She didn’t give up on me, and I will not quit on her. After all, I have already survived my worst fear.