Chemotherapy medicines are toxic. So therefore, when you’re receiving chemotherapy, anything that leaves your body is toxic. You have to be careful where it goes and who comes in contact with it.  

Naturally there are some basic safeguards – some that make tons of sense, some that are perhaps a bit surprising. Here’s the basic list:

1. Pee

You may not think that this is a big deal. Just flush it down and Bob’s your uncle (I know, he IS!). There are actually rules to the flushing. First one is to sit. Not a problem for me, as I always do. But dudes have to sit to pee. Not that that has anything to do with me, but I tought it was notable. Secondly, put the lid down before you flush. Who does that? Last, and the most disturbing to me, double flush! 

Flush sign

This may not seem upsetting to anyone … but I’m an environmentalist. Having grown up at a cottage, I’m already conditioned to NOT flush unless it’s very very yellow & stinky or brown. (Note: At home I do flush after I pee (promise), but I flush once.) So I find this to go against my principles. (I can tell you this, though, if I’m peeing during the time that I am receiving treatment at the cancer suite, you can bet I’ll be flushing twice! People track you with their eyes and likely listen for the double flush.)

The other thing about pee is that when you’re female of a certain age, it tends to be less able to stay in it’s correct location when coughing or sneezing or laughing or jumping on the trampoline.

I have been told that each time any pee gets on me I have to wash thoroughly (probably twice since that seems to be the norm) and if it gets on my clothing or sheets I have to wash them TWICE. Separate from other items. Geez. This seems like a lot of work. (Am I going to be wearing Depends?)

2. Sweat

I told the nurse that I don’t sweat. She raised her eyebrows as if to say “reeeeaally” or “you don’t sweat YET”. She then asked about hot flashes and night sweats. Hmm, well, I don’t sweat much …. ok, I’ll wash my sheets more often. Fine.  (But I’m not washing them twice.)

3. Vomit

I’m hoping I don’t have any issues in this department, but if I do, I have to follow the same rules as above – two flushes two washes. Of anything it touches. (I think I’m in denial on this one, but I’m not a puker.)

4. Stool

Who says stool?? It’s POOP, people!! I don’t think this will be a problem at all, since I haven’t generated very much since my 1st treatment. I know. It’s not a good thing. I’m on it …

poop inducers
Pear juice, herbal tea, bran muffins and a supportive mug. Bam!

5. Vaginal Fluid

Hold the bus. What? Yep – it’s toxic. So sex must involve covering it all up. Uh huh. A condom… and for other activities enjoyed by women, a dental dam. Ya, that’s not happening. 

What’s not on the list:

I asked the nurse why saliva is not on the list. I am going to try to reiterate what she said, but it didn’t make any sense to me so I’m not going to sound convincing. It’s ok because it is less likely to come in contact with someone. Um … what if I cough? Not enough. Or spit on someone? Funny look. What about kissing? Not enough. (Ok that woman must be a dry kisser.) I let it go. 

Some of the Additional Rules:

  • Anyone who deals with my “body fluids” has to (obviously wash it off their body asap, twice?), wear gloves and be given a medal. 
  • Any “body fluids” needing to be cleaned up are collected with paper towel that is then sealed in a plastic bag and put in the garbage – which is then sealed. (Of course I’m wondering what will happen if I toss it in the fire instead …)
  • If any of my “body fluids” get into my eyes or someone else’s eyes (ok … what??), the eyes must be flushed 2 or 3 times. Hard to get that image out of my mind. Projectile vomit? 

Good times, people, good times. 

And yes, you can visit me. Just stand back a safe distance. I’m toxic.

13 thoughts on “Toxic

  1. You are adorable Janice. You are going through so much and still have this incredible trait of making this humourous. I’m telling you girl, you have this and I am wishing for this all to be done and over with for you and so many. Lots of love going your way xo

  2. Another great post. At some point I will offer a partner’s perspective in my own blog if I can figure out the technology. The words awe and love will be prominent.

  3. You are so amazing! I am grateful that you are sharing your journey. I feel completely ignorant of the gritty details and this is both fascinating and helpful knowledge. I am cheering on your victories with much love and admiration!

  4. Hey Janice…..I wonder if you glow in the dark? Lol!
    Actually, I use to have a nice bath with Epsom Salts (the unflavored kind) and Baking Soda. It helps move those toxins through your body to do their job. Feels nice too. I had a Picc, so could not totally immerse but with your port-a-cath, you could. Of course check with the chemo nurse first to make sure that is ok for you. 😊💚

    1. I will be able to once the incisions from the portacath are healed. Another 5 days I think! I’m SO looking forward to immersing completely – however I’ve been told to avoid long hot soaks as my skin will become increasingly dried out. I figure I can have one every few days …

  5. I’ll still come close ❤️ I often wonder how Paul feels on the body fluid issues…but he only ever replies with “unconditional love”. Good question on burning the paper towels…could be a cool coloured flame!

  6. You are amazing and inspiring dear friend.
    These details are what can grind a person down – but your approach turns the tables. Hah!! Let’s hear it for humour!
    So a major Q I have is -how are these toxins treated by our waste management folks? We all know that our water gets collected and treated…
    it doesn’t just disappear.
    Comin’ to see you … gotta make some snowflakes. 😘😘

  7. OK. So this is not a “blog” – a term I had to look up (a truncation of the expression “weblog”) and I am not a blogger – When I first met Janice I barely knew how to text so I consider this a significant advancement in my technological skills. I thought it time to offer a partner perspective on this whole journey of breast cancer. The first thing to know and understand is that it affects everyone differently. Partners included. So this is by no means advice to anyone, rather my experience to date.

    1. Listen. Actively. I’ve listened to experts, to friends, to family and to myself. But most importantly I’ve worked on actively listening to my partner. This can be a challenge for someone like me with a relatively short attention span. They didn’t have diagnoses such as ADHD when I was a kid – I was just “high energy”. Anyway, listening really matters. And every day is different.

    2. Learn. Communication is the key to any successful relationship. And you can’t communicate unless you attempt to speak the language. Kinda like that trip to Quebec City in grade 12 for French class. There is a whole new lexicon and a bunch of acronyms that come with the process. You don’t have to become conversant in all of it and never, ever offer unsolicited advice based on the smidget of knowledge gleaned from the ethernet or any other source for that matter. But learning to read the highway signs is essential to understanding my journey as a passenger.

    3. Leave. (for a while). I know enough about Janice to understand that she needs time and space for herself under any circumstances and I suspect she is not alone (no pun intended) in this regard. So I chop wood. I stack wood. I burn wood, but that’s just me. There is no magic to wood but there is something innately satisfying about the entire endeavour. I guess my point is that its best to be there when I’m wanted but not to let the process become all absorbing. Not good for anyone.

    4. Laugh. Out loud. OK so arguably not the “best medicine” in this context, but I’m a big believer in the power of positivity. And laughter is contagious. Yeah, this whole thing sucks, but we’ve laughed a lot (as have you if you’ve read all of Janice’s blogs). I haven’t peed my pants yet, but who knows? I may only be another episode of irreverent banter with the kids at the dinner table away!

    That’s it for now. Thanks to everyone who outreaches, encourages…much appreciated..

    Yikes – just noticed the alliteration. Lol. (I didn’t know what that meant for the longest time….)

    1. Paul, I consider you to be a ‘B Logger’ !! You’re OK with the keyboard but don’t stray too far from the chainsaw & axe.

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