What It’s Like

So if you’ve never had cancer, maybe you’re wondering what it’s like. I don’t recommend it to anyone. The most significant thing about cancer, and yet the last thing I thought of, is that it can kill you. Almost any cancer will if untreated. Fortunately I posses an unusual blend of stubbornness and self confidence that allowed me to avoid this notion for quite some time, and I stll don’t dwell on it. But my tumor is inoperable, and my treatment options, while potentially effective, are limited.
A large consequence of my treatment has been forced early retirement from work.My treatment schedule combined with the side effects make it completely impossible for me to do any type of work on a regular basis.  I miss using problem solving skills, I miss interacting with my coworkers and business associates, I miss having a reason to leave the house, I miss my paycheck.

I also can’t drive, and am often to tired or weak to walk or bicycle any distance, not to mention confusion and memory issues make it a challenge to find my way when I do venture outside.

Chemotherapy keeps me in the hospital for up to two weeks at a time, hooked to IV drips that greatly restrict movement, and sentenced to hospital food.  The first day home from a chemo session is usually spent showering, sleeping, eating real food and sleeping some more.  The remainder of the week usually contains the ‘good days,’ often with enough strength to venture outside, walk the dog, and occasionally even to drink a beer.  Then, what the doctors call ‘nadir,’ the low point in the cycle of blood production hits, and its back to bed for a few days.  Right about when that fades, maybe a couple more good days, then it’s time to check back into the hospital for another round.

On the bright side, I’m not often actually in pain, I do have those ‘good days’ to spend with Sayer, and I get by on the hope that someday this will all be a distant memory.


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7 Responses to What It’s Like

  1. Karen Smyczek says:

    I was somewhat bemused by your self proclaimed description of your attitude–stubbornness and self-confidence. From one who knows, it started a long time ago and will be the thing you need to fight this beast. Day by day, week by week, month by month, and eventually, it will be a thing of the past. Hang in there, we send our love and prayers and anything else you ned. mom

  2. John A. Baird (a.k.a.= "Uncle" John) says:

    Wow, Chris, that was quite a detailed statement. It took a lot of guts to write all that. Oviously, it takes more guts to daily face your “war” against cancer. I can’t drive (anymore), I tire easily; but it is just from Cerebral Palsy and old age. The only war I have is “self pity”~~ oh, poor me. You have won that one. I envy you spirit to go forward. But, then again , you have a god woman! That helps in any battle.
    Keep up the great work……you and Sayer wil br in my thoughts and prayers.
    Uncle John

  3. Maureen Klear says:

    Thank you for sharing your personal struggles & positive insights, Chris. In a way, it is good for the rest of us to know what you’re going through & at the same time I think journaling it can be good for “you”. Keep looking @ the GOOD in all of it. That’ll get you everywhere. You’re an inspiration! ~Take care ~

  4. Howard Mahoney says:

    You’ll kick it Smeech. You have a wonderful ability, will, intellect and sense of humour that registers in the healing process. Some dumb luck too 🙂 A long process, but necessary. Don’t underestimate that mind-body thing either amigo. Your mind is telling your body to evict the disease, which you are doing.
    Think big picture once you’re over this hill. Love to take you and your wife to La Fonda (The Funky Hotel) for a steak and lobster.

  5. Flapperfolly says:

    Remember the two winos named Rudy and Luellen? We’re back, and I want my wine now!
    Reading your post brought shock of course, and anger, and then back to, who knows why anyone
    should suffer. I pray that in the times you are suffering, that you can look into your mind, and all the people you had influence over. I always knew you were an extraordinary prince of mind and heart. Most of the time I was too drunk to express it. I’ve never forgotten you, nore Rudy, and everytime I go past the old site,
    I invision those marvelous days of nconclance and nomading. Rudy will write to you later. You can find me on facebook under loulousmiley. Lots of hugs and love to you. Luellen

  6. John A. Baird (a.k.a.= "Uncle" John) says:

    There was a time when I liked wandering around the country. Unfortunately, it was just before I learned to drive.
    So~~ I needed a wandering partner. That, ultimately, was Martin J. Smyczek Jr.. We wndered hither and thithiter. Tiped a few beers en route.
    We wandered into St. Louis, MO ~~where I had a “pen pal” named Karen Wilhelm. When Marty saw her, he went “ga-ga” ~~head over heels in love. From there on, as Marty and I wandered, every night, he’d stop and send a letter to Karen Wilhelm. And, thus started the “long distance romance” that eventually produced 6 off-spring, including one Christopher “Stick” Smyczek.
    I know I rambeled a bit…. but it’s better than a mediccal report, isn’t it?
    You and Sayer…. hang in there. Tell her you came by your “wander-lust” quite well…from your Dad.

    ‘Nite Now,
    Uncle John

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