There are lots of things in this crazy world that are ironic. Just ask Alanis Marmoset (I know it’s Morissette, Marmoset is just more fun to say.) Rain on your wedding day and all that.
The irony in some of the treatments for a myriad of conditions are ridiculous. I guess that’s likely true for most medical treatments of one kind or another. Just listen to the legal warnings at the end of each commercial for the latest drug. Antidepressants that may cause thoughts of suicide. Erectile dysfunction drugs that may cause erections that won’t go away (yes, I said erection.) Blood pressure medicine that may increase your blood pressure or cause a heart attack. Any number of biologics carry multiple risks, but risks that so many are willing to take to manage an illness or relieve their pain.
With cancer, most of us willingly accept and take those risks and more – chemotherapy, radiation, experimental drugs.
Chemotherapy kills cells, attacking the cancer, but also attacks healthy cells. It makes you feel like hell. Perhaps because of this effect, it carries the risk of serious infection and potential development of unrelated cancers. Irony.
Radiation treatment specifically for brain tumors – targeted or more broadly focused – carries the risk of brain swelling, brain damage, OR brain tumors. Irony.
Anti-seizure medication or combinations of medicines carry the risk of triggering seizures. Irony
Some drugs – like antibiotics, meant to rid your body of potentially deadly bacteria, can reduce seizure thresholds and trigger a seizure. With a history of status epilepticus, it might kill you. Irony.
Experimental drugs carry a series of risks and depending on the phase of the trial, some of those risks are unknown – hence, why they’re in trial. These drugs can trigger new illnesses, potential fatal reaction or extend the impact of the disease you’re trying to fight. Irony.
Most of us are willing to take the risk, but the irony is not lost on us. While we battle a disease that is trying to kill us, we risk possible death and do so willingly. Ironic indeed.
The trick is knowing what to ask your doctors about the risks when you’re prescribed medicines or begin a new treatment, take the time to consult with your pharmacist any time you start a new medication, and read those long lists of potential side effects for the medications you’re taking to understand any risks and contraindications. Essentially, be informed and don’t assume that what you’re prescribed is safe – especially if you have multiple doctors – as we all seem to in the world of cancer. Carry around a list of your medications – with doses – so you can make sure you don’t forget any of them when you are discussing new treatments. Don’t become a cautionary tale and get added to the next Alanis Marmoset song about the many ironies in life.
As an aside – there are thousands of plants in the Amazon jungles alone that can be used to treat a wide range of illness and disease – including cancers – but in the name of ‘progress’, those forests and all they offer the world are being destroyed at incredible rates. Not only are we destroying the homes of the indigenous people, we’re destroying potential sources of a cure. Irony or ignorance?