At a gathering of friends who were discussing everything from the Gulf oil disaster to kitty cat cartoons on YouTube, someone mentioned a tummy ache and the need to take an antacid. Others offered suggestions on which ones worked for them. One person in the group said he never touches any medicine; no one needs to take medicine: “You can get any kind of soothing or healing benefit from natural substances in foods—I just eat yogurt if I get a stomach ache.”
Before I went through all of this stupid cancer business, I rarely got sick. I would get the flu maybe once during the flu season. I would take the usual remedies for the symptoms and wait for it all to pass. I also would get migraines. If you have never had a migraine, you are fortunate. A migraine is not just a severe headache. It is something that afflicts your entire body. I never had any relief for my migraines until Imitrex® became available. It was like a miracle drug, easing the symptoms of my migraines from head to toe as though my body were being immersed slowly in a soothing warm bath. I keep it handy just in case, though I have not had any migraines since breast cancer injected itself into my life.
In May 2008, the year before the diagnosis that my breast cancer had metastasized, I began having searing pain in my back. At first I took ibuprofen and tried doing exercises for my back to work the pain out of my back. As time passed and the pain worsened, I started to take pain medication prescribed by my physician. My body doesn’t respond well to some pain medications, so I could not take certain drugs. As time went on and the pain worsened, we kept changing prescriptions to find something that would ease the pain without causing me sickness or severe dizziness.
Finding something that would work to ease the excruciating pain was a challenge and not something I want to remember too well. I’ve always been able to deal with pain and have also been someone who refuses to take medication until it was too late. I learned by error that it is crucial to take pain medication before the pain is severe in order to control it and keep it from exacerbating. Without medication I don’t know what I would have done to cope with the excruciating pain I experienced.
Now that breast cancer has come into my life, I will be taking a variety of drugs for some time. Like most people, I don’t like chemo drugs or anything that causes me to feel nauseated or dizzy or achy or whatever. I am glad that we have drugs to ease symptoms of nausea, diarrhea, headaches and bone pain. And, I am very glad that, despite the side effects, we have drugs to help extend my life. I really don’t want to have to take drugs, but I will always want every advantage to fight this disease.
When people make comments that they don’t take any medicine, I wonder whether they realize that they are fortunate not to need to choose taking a drug or facing severe consequences. While I do believe that we have a natural healing capability that can handle a lot of ills that present to us throughout our lifetime, I also believe that sometimes our natural healing ability needs reinforcements. I am not too proud to allow medications help me, and I am quite happy to know that we have more options available today than we had when I was a kid and metastatic cancer was an immediate death sentence.
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© 2004-2010 Donna Peach. All rights reserved.