a man and a woman clink their wine glasses on a porch next to a lake filled with geese. Their car sits nearby.

Chemotherapy. The Ultimate Steel Donut

My wife Holly and I have a little tradition that we do when things in our lives get a little crazy or out of control. She runs her own insurance agency, and I'm a stage 4 prostate cancer survivor, so things can get a bit hectic between her insurance appointments and my doctors' appointments. Our way of reconnecting is something we call "road trip therapy."

Road trip therapy

Road trip therapy basically consists of us getting in the car and driving somewhere, usually an hour or so away, and then exploring the town we end up in, having something to eat and drink, and then heading back home. It doesn't sound like that big a deal, but when you haven't had a normal conversation in a few weeks, it's a great way to reconnect and enjoy each other's company.

We live in Western Michigan, so the towns along Lake Michigan beckon during the summertime. We were sitting in a little bistro in one of these lakeshore towns recently when I lamented to Holly that it seemed like we weren't getting out to the lakeshore as much as we used to, and we needed to make a point of doing it more often.

Wait, what?

She responded to my complaining with a look of incredulity. Now, believe me, I've been married for over 30 years, and I'm not always the sharpest tool in the shed, so I'm sorta used to this look. But, the look really told me she was completely amazed that I said what I did. I saw the look and asked, "What?"

She said, "Do you remember what you were going through last summer?"

As soon as she asked the question, I remembered. I put my hand to my forehead and rubbed my temple.

"Oh, yeah," I said. "Chemo."

Summer of chemotherapy

My first session of chemotherapy was on April 13th, 2018. I was infused with the drug Taxotere. There were six infusions, each 3 weeks apart. The last treatment was on July 27. So, yeah, the infusions took out most of our summer. We stayed home.

Each infusion was immediately followed by a couple of "good" days. And then the shit show started, which consisted of 10 or 11 days of feeling really awful. These days were replete with throwing up, uncontrollable diarrhea, severe nausea, you name it, I got it. It really was the ultimate steel donut. It was a steel donut the size of a truck tire. Even when I started feeling better after about 11 days, those days weren't all that great, either.

If you're thinking right now, wow, Dan, thanks for the really uplifting blog. Sorry. Here comes the good part.

Life returns to "normal"

This summer, I'm doing road trip therapy with Holly again. We’re taking trips to the beach again. We’re seeing friends again. I've gotten back on my bike again.

What my summer of chemotherapy has taught me is this. Even though I'm still getting treated for advanced prostate cancer, hormone therapy isn't as bad as chemo. I have a much greater appreciation for the richness of life. I have a much greater appreciation for the fact that on most days, I feel pretty good.

I also have a much greater appreciation for people that have gone through chemotherapy. My chemo was much easier than what a lot of survivors go through. Those people are true warriors.

My plan for the summer

So, this summer, I'm enjoying myself with some good food, fine drink, and the company of friends. Life with a chronic disease is never easy, but this year, with a little road trip therapy and the tossing aside of a very heavy steel donut, it just feels that way.

Thanks for reading.


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