In the game of cancer defense, the key word is side effects. It was always there in the background, but now that the offensive season is over and the battle is more passive, everything seems to be a side effect.
WELL-MEANING FRIEND: “You’ve put on some weight. You should tell your doctor.”
ME: “No. I actually ate an entire Duncan Hines cake by myself.”
WELL-MEANING FRIEND: “No. Weight gain is a side effect. You should tell your doctor.”
ME: “Did you just hear what I said? The ENTIRE cake. By myself.”
WELL-MEANING FRIEND: “You should tell your doctor.”
Or moodiness. That’s a big one. I get angry at anyone and it’s automatically chalked up to “side effects.”
ANNOYING FRIEND: “You know you’re being snappy. That’s a side effect.”
ME: “I think it’s a side effect of you being an a-hole.”
ANNOYING FRIEND: “No. You should tell your doctor.”
ME: “Tell my doctor that you’re driving me crazy?”
ANNOYING FRIEND: “See? You’re moody.”
You can’t really win.
I mean, granted, there are a lot of side effects to the drugs I am taking. I’m exhausted all the time. Not just tired, by the way. Jet-lag tired. Like, if given the opportunity, I could sleep standing up. Which is kind of funny because the initial side effect of finding out you have cancer is, well, insomnia. Maybe I’m just making up for those months of sleepless nights with these current days of fatigue.
Then there’s the nausea. Yes, it’s a side effect, but I can rationalize that one away. I never had morning sickness when I was pregnant, so I’m thinking this is more karmic than actual side effect.
Another unfortunate side-effect to getting breast cancer is that my breasts have suddenly moved into the public domain and are acceptable topics during polite dinner conversation. This side effect was kind of unnerving the first time it happened.
MALE DINNER GUEST: “So, how is reconstruction going? Are you excited?”
ME: (spitting up seltzer) “Seriously?!?”
MALE DINNER GUEST: “I mean, you must be happy, right? Women kill for this surgery.”
ME: “Actually, I think it’s the surgery that kills them.”
MALE DINNER GUEST: “You know I hear moodiness is a side effect.”
Not only is everything currently a side effect for whatever drugs I am taking, but every physical ailment is a cause for alarm. I find myself constantly saying that line from Kindergarten Cop, “It’s not a tumah,” when I ask a friend if she has any spare Advil in her bag.
I shouldn’t complain, though. After all, one of the biggest side effects, at least hopefully, is that there won’t be any more cancer crossing over to other parts of my body. That’s a side effect that weighed heavily against the nausea, the fatigue, the brain fog, and whatever other gems this lovely ride plans on giving me. However, I’ve decided not to search for the side effects. After all, just because it’s listed on the bottle, doesn’t mean it’s because of the pills.
I’m tired from staying up late.
I’m gaining weight because I’m not watching what I eat.
I’m moody because…well, because people are idiots.
Though my husband has pointed out that my sarcasm has improved tremendously.
I told him it’s a side effect.