Evie Lichtenwalter is a Ball State student taking an academic break due to her cancer diagnosis and writes ‘Prognosis Unknown’ for the Daily News. Her views do not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper. Write to Evie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cancer does not pick favorites. It chooses no sides. It’s a destructive, unpredictable, warmongering machine that will infiltrate and destroy anything it can.
Everyone has likely heard horror stories of chemotherapy — constant nausea, hair loss and an overall state of just being ill, but stories can’t really prepare you for the reality of the situation.
The worst part, the part no one seems to mention, is the sudden lack of control.
Part of my treatment includes six rounds of chemotherapy and major surgery in January, followed by six more rounds of chemotherapy. After that, fingers crossed, I’ll be in remission.
One day, I feel fine. The next, I wake up in the middle of the kitchen floor with a throbbing headache. I tried to cook some popcorn, but because my red blood cells and white blood cells are so low, all I managed to do was pass out and smash my head into the floor. This isn’t the first time this has happened, and it won’t be the last.
I’ve passed out while sitting down for lunch at Puerto Vallarta. I’ve passed out at home, nearly landing on top of a hot stove.
I can feel it happening, but I can’t control it. It’s debilitating and embarrassing, but it’s just something I do now.
Activities that were so easy just weeks before are no longer easy. Grocery shopping is hard because I can’t stand for more than 10 minutes without getting dizzy. Eating is a chore because everything tastes like metal and my mouth is raw, and all I really want to do is sleep.
Before my diagnosis, I was a busy person. I worked two jobs and took a full class load, barely leaving time to sleep and function. I’d pull a few all-nighters a week, and I existed purely off caffeine and fast food while I tried my hardest to stay caught up.
It wasn’t ideal, but it was manageable. It was normal.
I recently made an attempt to go back to my part time job at Target. I figured it had been enough time, nearly four months since my diagnosis and surgery, and surely I would be fine.
But one five-hour shift taught me that I was not ready. Standing up for 10 minutes left me lightheaded and on the verge of passing out. I made it through that shift, thanks to the kindness of my coworkers who let me sit most of the time and were more than understanding.
I went home that afternoon feeling terrible.
Not because of the chemo, not because of the cancer.
I felt terrible because I could no longer do what I wanted to do. Things I did blindly and without thought months before were suddenly a struggle, and it made me feel frustrated and useless.
Cancer has been a constant reminder that right now, life isn’t going to be what it used to be. This is my new normal, and I just have to be along for the ride.