PJ McCormick UX Manager at Amazon, Speaker, Cancer Survivor

So here I sit in my ChemoThrone, hooked up to the first of my chemo drugs—Etoposide, the milder of the two. My second drug, the hooded monster, Cisplatin, lurks on a nearby table, waiting for its turn to melt away my insides.

Untitled

In a way, it’s hard to believe we’re finally here, standing at what is (hopefully) the finish line. And yet, on the other hand, even now just getting through the rest of this one day seems like an insurmountable challenge.

Chemo is without a doubt the hardest thing I’ve ever had to endure. I’m told by the nurses that Cisplatin—or “Cisplat,” as they call it—is the primary reason for my suffering.

A drug composed largely of platinum, Cisplatin single-handedly turned testicular cancer from a death-wish to one of the most treatable of all cancers when it was discovered. For that, of course, I am blessed and thankful.

But it sure does beat the shit out of you.

The doctors tell you repeatedly that everyone responds to the chemo drugs differently, and that its difficult to predict how severe or mild any individual’s reaction will be to any particular drug.

That being said, Cisplatin is renowned for its severity. An example: newly developed anti-nausea meds are tested on patients undergoing Cisplatin treatments. If it helps Cisplatin patients, then it can help patients on other drugs, as well.

I’ve learned a lot in these past few months, and a lot of what I’ve learned has yet to really sink in.

I’ve learned that, as Sara told me, this cancer does not define me—but it has changed me, and for the better. It has left a mark—many marks, really, physical, visible, emotional, mental—and I need to pay attention to them.

I’ve come to truly know and understand pain, sorrow, suffering, fatigue, nausea, illness. Illness in its truest, darkest form.

I thought I knew these things before, in my pre-cancer life, but what I thought I knew were just hollow analogues to the real things.

So what’s next? Getting through the rest of this day, first. Fighting through the hooded bag of Cisplatin, once they hang it on my IV rack here in a few minutes. Then going home and resting, resting, resting.

And then after that? Scans are in my future. Scans that will hopefully bear good news.

And then after that? Living. Trudging through the inevitable emotional obstacles that lie before me, like Survivorship, but at the end of the day, its back to the land of the living.

But it will be a renewed life. We are a part of the Cancer Community now, the We of Cancer, and I want to make sure I contribute in ways that are meaningful towards this hellish battle so many of us have found ourselves thrown into.

This is a lot to be thinking about from the ChemoThrone, mind-addled on anti-nausea meds.

But what matters right now is this—we are on the last leg of a terrible ordeal, and my beautiful wife Sara has stuck by my side throughout every minute of it, and together, with the love and support of our friends and family, we will beat this.