Are you aware that each course of chemotherapy is referred to in ‘cycles’ or ‘rounds’? I tend to use the term ‘round’ more often than not when discussing chemotherapy with others. One round is from when you go to the Oncology Ward and are injected with the nasty-cell-killing drugs, until the next time you repeat this process. It also includes the period of time that is considered your “rest” between each treatment. The rest period and the number of rounds varies from person to person and from cancer to cancer. For me: it’s 4 rounds, every 3 weeks.
In other cancer patients, this treatment plan is considered “lucky” – there is enough time to recover and feel “normal” before the next hit, and 4 rounds is the minimum treatment used. WIN, WIN.
It’s very hard to know what to expect when you start chemo. You may experience all of the side effects, or only a few (nausea, vomiting, body aches and pains, tiredness, mouth ulcers, digestive problems, taste changes…just to name a few). You may feel the effects immediately, or in the later stages. Chemotherapy drugs can have cumulative effects – the first round you still feel healthy, the next you don’t recover as quickly – your energy levels are affected a fraction more, the next is a little worse again, and the next…etc..etc
So if you’re wondering why I am still cycling and running hill sprints – this is why…the first round hasn’t hit me too hard. Although we all know now I need to be more cautious of my physical activity when my WBC’s are low. *smacks hand*.
So, taking all this into account, I can’t help but make a comparison between chemotherapy and boxing. Boxing? YES, boxing…
To ensure I wasn’t going completely bonkers by making this comparison, I spent some time with my trusted old friend, Google. I found this description of boxing that I feel cements my theory.
“In the early rounds of a fight, boxers figure out what their opponent’s strong points and weak points are, and then try to find a winning strategy, taking into account their own strengths and weaknesses as well. As such, boxing is very much a “mental” contest as well as a physical one…”
Ok, maybe I haven’t quite convinced you just yet. Let me continue…
Although I have never been in a boxing match, I have considered it in the past, and trained by some extremely talented boxing trainers. I learnt all the moves: jab, cross, hook, uppercut, duck, slip (is there any moves I have forgotten?), but unfortunately for me, I don’t have a desire to punch someone in the head…and let’s not mention my two left feet.
If, however, I was a boxer…I hope this is how a typical first round would play out…
Round 1 – full of energy and a few nerves, quick on my feet, moving easily, alert to my opponents’ moves – what combos they use, defence is still strong – I react quickly to their attacking
Break – pep talk from my support, a quick rest and re-hydrate
For me, the first round of chemotherapy was much the same. Every day I felt I was alert to what was happening to my body. What moves did my opponent have in store for me, and how would I react.
So what happens next?…
I go into round 2 with the same mindset as would a boxer. I will accept the knocks to my body, but keep mentally strong. It may be harder than the previous round, but with determination I can make it to the next.
Side note: If any of my ex-boxing trainers are reading this, I hope I have done it justice. I may have to get out my gloves and dust them off.