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When You Have to Feel Sick to Feel Better

I don’t want to… but I have to! I don’t want to… but I need to!

It’s the morning of my monthly infusion and the anxiety is starting to build… as is my anticipatory nausea. I have been poisoning and fueling myself with chemotherapy every two to four weeks, for the better part of 10 years.

Every month, without fail, these thoughts start to cycle through my brain, “I’m so ready for my infusion, I can feel how much my body needs this. I’m not ready for my infusion, I don’t want to feel sick again. I will come back today feeling more sick than when I left. I will come home feeling like a different person than I was this morning. I hope this time goes easy on me, I hope I’ve prepped enough for the amount of resting that I will need. I hope this month is better than the last.”

It’s so difficult to convince yourself that you need to feel sick before you can feel better. The most bizarre part of my treatment plan is that once a month, I have to pump myself up, I have to make myself optimistically await feeling sick. I have to force a readiness to feel even more ill than I already chronically do.


I will be exhausted. I will be nauseous. I will be unable to eat what I want. I will be out of it for at least a few days. I will not be myself for a week. However, without this infusion, I will not be able to survive and enjoy my future sister-in-law’s bachelorette party later this weekend. Without this infusion, I will not be able to celebrate and fully enjoy my brother’s wedding in a few weeks. Without this infusion, I will feel awful, my illness will most likely progress, life may get scary and I will feel worse than these lousy side effects make me feel. This is a necessity. Not a choice.

For me, the hardest part of being on this type of treatment plan is that everyone seems to have a better option up their sleeve, so many unrelated tips that are constantly thrown my way.

“If you eat more veggies, your vision won’t be blurry anymore!”

“My friend’s, cousin’s, mother’s friend’s, sister took this vitamin and her lesions healed themselves!”

“You should add coconut oil to your diet, your numbness will go away!”

“If you cut out meat, dairy, gluten and genetically modified organism, you’ll be able to run, it totally worked for so-and-so.”

So much advice from those that can’t possibly understand. Every single one implying this lifestyle is a choice and the wrong one at that! I know these tips and thoughts come from a place of love, but all they do is instill doubt and anxiety. Doubt that my doctor doesn’t have my best interests in mind, doubt that I’m following the wrong treatment plan and fear that I’m missing out on a better, easier option.

Woman sitting in a medical chair, with a blanket around her.

I’m always interested in living the healthiest life-style I can, but if any of these options were productive, wouldn’t there be proof of endless positive results? Wouldn’t my doctors be knowledgeable of these options? Wouldn’t we all be cured? All of this fuels my anxiety and the internal struggle I face before every every infusion.

No, Tyffanie, an apple a day will not keep the neurologist away, but this infusion will hopefully keep your visits to a minimum. I’ve tried alternative options and it always seems to end in catastrophe. If an apple a day keeps your doctor away, kudos! This is a necessity. Not a choice. I’ll keep repeating this to myself until my anxiety calms down and the big picture is present in the front of my mind.

As I sit here editing this after surviving this month’s infusion, while fighting nausea and fatigue, I’m thinking of you. Of all you warriors that know this life, that keep fighting the good fight. I hope you’re as lucky as I am and that you have someone to remind you: You’re not alone, and all of your feelings are valid. It’s OK to be angry and frustrated, but try to remember to find your light at the end of the tunnel. Keep going!

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Thinkstock Image By: Kilav