It wasn’t long after the diagnosis that we had met with a very specialised cancer doctor. Unfortunately my wife has a form of cancer caused by asbestos (so we found out later), a mesothelioma of the peritoneum. This is usually associated with the lungs (people breathe in the asbestos fibres), but here the tumours were forming on the wall of the cavity surrounding all the organs in the lower abdomen. God knows how that happened.
We were told there were a couple of approaches to try and get rid of this. One was surgery – a ten or twelve hour operation to open up the cavity and remove all the tumours. But the scans seemed to show this would not be possible – the bulk of disease appeared too great.
So that left chemo.
Now I had only ever met one person who had had chemo, and so wasn’t all that aware of what it entailed.
I soon found out.
My wife was very brave – she had a special outfit picked out, to show that the disease was going to be beaten. And she went with her mother for the treatment, six hours in the ‘chair’.
I don’t recall the specific drug, but it was tough and strong, and should help to reduce the cancer.
But the chemo also destroys everything else around it, and has severe side effects. In my wife’s case, hallucinations, great big bloody dragons in our room, watching over us. And a lack of appetite on top of the vomiting – they say to bulk up before hand, but the disease had made that hard, hence the rush to get the chemo started.
And then there were the mental impacts – eventually certain foods, and clothes would have adverse memories attached to them, and even walking into the hospital was a struggle. It was devastating, watching her lose weight, strength, happiness.
For six rounds – once every month, this went on. And not even knowing if it was doing what we hoped and reducing the disease. All we could see was the deterioration of a person.