At some point during this tumultuous journey I wondered, what exactly is cancer? Hitting a lot of dead ends trying to understand the causes of it (why Buddha why?!?), I thought it made sense to investigate the root of it to get a better, overall understanding.
Generally speaking, cancer is a malfunction of the cell production process. When cells die, typically they are flushed out and new cells are generated to take their place. Sometimes things don’t go as planned and these “dead” cells start to accumulate and form a tumour. As long as the individual cells no longer grow, the tumour is considered benign and most of the time can be safely removed through surgery. However, sometimes these cells are able to find a blood vessel and essentially become…undead.
The more I dug into the characteristics of cancer cells, the more I felt like I was reading some kind of zombie thriller novel. These “walking dead” cells are mobile and able to move through the blood vessels. They have an abnormal, ghoul-like appearance, and can’t (or don’t) communicate with normal, healthy cells. They don’t repair themselves or self-destruct as normal cells would, they just continue to grow and divide relentlessly and if not stopped, will infect nearby healthy cells.
I thought about the moment the cancer started…did a door slam? Did I feel a chill down my spine? Perhaps it was close to midnight and I sensed something lurking in the dark. No wonder treatment for cancer is so long and taxing, I mean we’re dealing with zombie cells here! And then it hit me, did this mean I was exhibiting zombie-like behaviours?
I have noticed something strange about my appetite. I initially blamed it on the meds that stimulate appetite and counter other side effects of chemo, however the strangeness occurs mainly after I’ve stopped taking them. It’s like my appetite has reverted to some kind of primitive state—RAVENOUS like. An appetite that must be satisfied…or else.
Me: Dammit! My friend can’t make it for pizza tonight! I’m totally going home and ordering DOMINO’S.
Friend: Why not make a simple pizza at home?
Me: I want DOMINO’S.
Friend: No, no, come over for dinner, we are having chicken fajitas!
Me: Hmmmm alright, that does sound yum. But you’re lucky I’m not hungry right now, cause there’s a DOMINO’S right there! At least let’s walk by so I can drool over the parmesan bites!!!
Of course a few nights later, I was dialing Domino’s number. I thought the craving had passed but it seems there is no stopping these hungry-like-the-wolf cravings.
Also I don’t normally have a sweet tooth but all of sudden I have sugar cravings that can’t be ignored. One night, attempting to try and eat healthy (and avoid Domino’s), I dropped into my local organic store. I picked up a few veggies for dinner but when I got to the cash, sitting there were these oh-so-tempting double chocolate, pecan cookies! Why would an ORGANIC store do this to me?!? Of course one…errrrr maybe two made it’s way home with me. I at least ate my nice, healthy dinner before pouncing on the cookies. YUM. But next thing I knew, I was scrubbing the dishes and hoppin’ and boppin’ along to Taylor Swift.
“I knew you were trrrrrouble when you walked in!”
OMG. Sugar is bad for you, very very bad.
Another night, friends and I decided to take advantage of one of the last summer-like evenings and have a picnic in the park. Whilst I was busy gnawing away on my Portuguese chicken (yes, another craving), my friends were getting eaten alive by the mosquitoes. Strange how I seemed to be the only one immune to the pesty, blood-sucking insects.
Were these bizarre behaviours a result of zombie cells? Also according to Google, the way to destroy zombies is to attack their brains and this is precisely what chemo does—destroys the DNA of the cancer cells. There were just too many coincidences to ignore.
And then as darkness fell across the land, and the midnight hour was close at hand, I broke into a deep, creepy maniacal laugh.