I’ve been chatting with a fellow survivor recently, comparing notes on our progress on this rather longer than expected road to recovery and the last email brought up so many points that I thought I’d reply here to share with you all:
The first one I’d like to address is question/statement, “Doesn’t it all take such a lot of patience??”, to which I respond with a resounding “HellYesinaHandbasket~”.
It takes a lot of patience and perseverance (both of which I’m reluctantly, yet forcibly developing) and the cold, hard fact is that no one can recover 100% from cancer treatment. Close to it, but though the majority of the cells in your body can and will regenerate within days or months, there are some areas that take much longer or don’t at all. The neurons in our cerebral cortexes do not and our bones can take upwards of 25 years. However, there are many cells that are regenerating as we speak. These are some examples I’ve found in my research. I can’t verify their exact accuracy, but they are approximate figures to give you the gist of it.
Cell Type — Lifespan
•Granulocytes — 10 hours to 3 days
•Stomach lining cells — 2 days
•Colon cells — 3-4 days
•Epithelia of small intestine — 1 week or less
•Platelets — 10 days
•Skin epidermal cells — 2 – 4 weeks
•Lymphocytes — 2 months – a year
•Red blood cells — 4 months
•Stomach lining cells — 2 days
•Macrophages — months – years
•Endothelial cells — months – years
•Pancreas cells — 1 year or more
•Bone Cells — 25 – 30 years
There’s a line in this quaint Aussie film called Griff the Invisible where the girl suggests letting go of our childhood traumas because we are not the same people we were back then, literally. Nearly all of our cells have regenerated and the cells that made us who we were back then no longer exist. Pretty cool scene.
So, chemo saturated every ounce of your body, which means it effected your good cells as well as bad ones. I’m no scientist, but here’s what I get from that list. I should feel better by now, and I do. I’m still achy, stiff and tire easily, but less so than the month before or before that and I’m noticeably stronger. In August it was a struggle to get up off the ground once seated. Now, I can with almost fluid motion. According to those figures, a year from the date of my last chemo session I should feel much better. That’ll be January, 2013, so I’ll let you know when I cross that bridge.
My brain and my bones will do what they will. I may never have the same fabulous multi-tasking IT Ninja skills I once had, but I do seem to have developed other, more creative skills that went un-noticed before, so patience is absolute or live with the madness from the lack of it. The body is an amazing thing once you break it down. So is the human spirit (if we let it). Nine times out of ten, how you look at it makes all the difference. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting it should be all sunshine and roses. There’s some amount of depression that comes with the aftermath of it all, be it survivor’s guilt or just the sadness over the loss of life as you knew it before the shit hit the fan, but once you start realizing that progress is happening, that your body is learning to compensate for its current limitations and developing new skills, well that’s really pretty cool. I noticed the other day that I can get up off the floor after a stretch session without the usual aches or rocking motion to gain momentum to hurl the mass (now slightly less in mass) of me up and to my feet and yesterday I remembered a new person’s name without searching around my brain for it. That’s my silver lining. What’s yours?
On the subject of water…well that’s whole ‘nother story and deserves a page of it’s own, so “Next~”