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Chemo is "Poison"


6-12-2008

Occasionally when I describe Jaymun's treatment, some well-meaning person says something strange.
I'm going to point out how bizarre it sounds to me. They will say "Oooo, you know, Chemo is poison".

I'm not sure what they mean. Are they implying the doctors have no idea what they are using?
Or that I (as a parent) have chosen something "any dummy" should know does not work?
I actually find it more humorous than insulting. I simply think people make that statement, because the subject is too mysterious for them. Also, they were not here to witness little Jaymun, suffering horribly from leukemic meningitis, symptomatically relieved within a week (using chemo).

I just thought of an analogy to more easily explain this. Think about a surgeon's knife. A surgeon knows where to go and what to cut with the knife. Obviously some skin and muscle gets destroyed, and some blood lost, but once the job is stiched up, the healing process begins. Most people understand that, and don't mind trading temporary "destruction" for permanent healing.

However, with leukemia, the cancer cells are floating all throughout the body. And so it is impossible to take a knife and go after them. So the doctors have discovered certain chemical "knives" that target certain cell populations.
Over simplified example: Killing 99% of the cancer while only sacrificing 90% of the blood. Do that a few times (letting the blood grow back in between) and you have basically used your chemical/biological knife to "cut out the cancer". Granted - some chemical/biological "knives" aren't as precise - and so the damage overlap is greater. And although some cancers are 90% cured by chemotherapy, many others still have dismal success rates.
We possibly haven't discovered the best "knives" to "cut out" the cancer yet.

I understand nutrition plays a huge role in preventing cancer - it is always better not to need a "surgeon", right? But if your appendix was ready to burst and you were in horrible pain, would you avoid the doctor (because you might loose some skin and blood cells in the process of cutting out your appendix?) Would you stay home drinking tea and popping vitamins (hoping to avoid stiches) - until it burst hours later? No, since your body's natural defenses were already weakened or overwhelmed, you would appreciate the skillful surgeon's knife to remove your infected appendix.

Same thing with cancer and chemo. When people say with a shiver "Chemo is Poison", I think "Yep, sure is. God bless the poison and make it work well. Please God, help that "poison" to do what the doctors intended. Help it to kill the proper percentage of cancer, and to not destroy too many healthy cells along the way."
Would you want your surgeon operating with a dull knive? Would you want chemo that was not poisinous?

Chuckle... I just thought of something to say when someone needs their appendix removed - I could shiver and say...

..."Ooooo you know, Knives are sharp!"

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