One thing that most of us do as we enter the cancer arena for the first time is to consider the various methods of treatment available to us and their possible side effects.

From the very start as I began to research my options with breast cancer, I had trouble with the phrase “Side Effects” and I don’t imagine I’m the only one.

First of all, losing one’s hair, nausea and vomiting, lymphedema, blood clots and depression are not what I would refer to as “side effects”. They definitely aren’t pushed off to anybody’s side as far as I can tell. These symptoms are in the forefront for cancer survivors. They’re not a side show, or a side dish. They’re in the center ring. Center stage. Grand Central station. They are the main event.

These so called “side effects” are what many of us experience day to day while the numerous treatments and methods and experimental drugs are doing their magic quietly on our cancer cells.

Somewhere in the background of our amazingly complex bodies, our own immune systems are busy trying to heal us. Silently. Diligently.  And what we are actually feeling is a result of those compounds that have been infused into our bloodstream which the medical practitioners hope will aid us in some way.

And why is it that the so called “side effects” of drugs are listed last in the dosage instructions and in the tiniest print available? The obvious answer is that they don’t want us to see it, but the bottom line of course is that nobody knows better about what our bodies accept or what they reject than us. We owe it to ourselves to read the fine print. To ask questions. And to make choices based on our personal experience and the feedback we get from our own bodies.

Rarely is a treatment for cancer completely free from unwanted side effects. Each of us weighs the benefits against the negative experiences, and in the end, our quality of life is just that.

A life with quality.

Khevin Barnes is a Breast Cancer Survivor, song writer and stage magician. He was diagnosed with stage one, grade three invasive breast cancer in May, 2014. He lives in Vail, Arizona and travels wherever he’s invited to speak to women and men about Cancer.  Visit his website, Breast Cancer Speaker.


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