a hand on fire while it writes a letter

Dear Chemo: Thank You, but I Hate You

Chemo, you gave me life, but you also threw me in the mud, held my head down, and twisted it in the sludge; then you kicked me in the ribs on your way out and spit a "hocker" on me for good measure. I hate you.

Chemotherapy

During chemo, I would cry to my oncologist about the side effects. He’d say, “a little pain, Claire, for a lot of gain.” Okay, number one it wasn’t a "little" pain, it was a lot of pain. Number two, "Doc, you gotta come up with a better line."

But this isn’t only about chemo or my oncologist, it’s about a word I’ve decided not to use: gratitude. Before all you optimists go ballistic, let me inform you that I am not a glass-is-half-full kind of person. For me, the glass is perpetually half empty. The cupboard is bare, the lot is vacant, the well is dry.

Am I a pessimist? Yes, you could say I am. But I won’t apologize because I think pessimists live in the real world. Pessimists look at things with clear eyes and most of us pessimists work to get things done. You think there’s a change in the world because optimists change it? Hell no. Pessimists do. We look around and declare, “Optimists see things as they are, and say "that’s not so bad." I, as a pessimist, dream of things that never were, and say "why the heck don’t we have that?"

Gratitude

Back to chemo. I am lucky that I had the best medicine Medicare and a good Medicare supplement can buy. I have a kind, thoughtful and tender family who helped and supported me during chemo in more ways than I can list. My friends brought me dinners, presents, and companionship which meant more to me than I will ever be able to explain. That’s good fortune and I am indebted to them. I thank them from the bottom of my heart. I guess if you held my feet to the fire I’d say I’m certainly grateful for all that.

Treatment side effects

But chemo? Nuh-uh. Okay, you gave me life, but it was a horrid treatment. I am not grateful for it. It made me bald, nauseous, exhausted, dizzy, and depressed. It blew up my digestive system, gave me severe bone pain, ruined my nails, and gave me pimples. Pimples! At age 65!

So, thank you, chemo, but I’m not grateful for you. Seriously, I hate your guts.

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