Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Steroid Withdrawal

"Hey, hey, stay positive, pal.
Most people, they lose,they whine and quit.
But you got to be there for the turns.
Everybody's got good luck, everybody's got bad luck.
Don't run when you lose. Don't whine when it hurts."

-          Michael Douglas, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

Well, today is my fourth full day off that dreaded prednisone. I went for a bone marrow test today to ensure that this was, in fact, my last week of induction (Results will be in sometime next week). But for now, I’m beyond thrilled to publicize that I have the week off of treatment. As in no drugs, full body recovery before beginning the next phase.  

But looking back, this past week has been a blur; a steroid haze. The days and nights distorted, moments split into mere fragments in my memory and any activities, I recall undertaking with minimal focus and energy. Reflecting on the week, I struggle to highlight the events that occurred in between the naps and the haze: a couple delicious dinner parties, reading half a book, finishing a couple movies (I distinctively remember watching American Beauty: a compellingly twisted film. I highly recommend watching it if you’re on steroids/chemo though, because it’s humanly impossible to lose focus on Kevin Spacey when he’s in the zone.)

The other film I distinctly remember watching was Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. Michael Douglas quotes in the movie with such poise, “Most people they lose, they whine and quit.” Although in the movie, it’s in complete irrelevant context to my situation, as I processed his words through my chemo brain, I began to realize that his lines were nothing but applicable. Because even though the past week has become a consuming blob of steroid haze, I realized, yes while watching Michael Douglas’s speech from Wall Street, that I can’t sit around and feel sorry for myself. "Everybody's got good luck, everybody's got bad luck. Don't run when you lose. Don't whine when it hurts." 
I can’t become homestead, curl up in a ball and linger on the sideline while my body fights this battle. Whatever physical struggle I have to fight through, I will be mentally fighting harder just so that I remain in control. So this is why I went for a hair cut this weekend ... not in spite of the steroid haze but so that I can mentally remain in control.   

I didn’t get a buzz cut, I decided it wasn’t necessary. I didn’t have the guts to do a Miley Cyrus, call me weak but I don’t think I could rock the bleach. I also chickened out on the Emma Watson Pixie Cut; With the prednisone chipmunk cheeks, I thought the change would be too drastic. I DID manage to lose 9 inches, which for me, was a radical step in itself.

So thank you Michael Douglas.
Even though your intention was to fictionally inspire stock brokers to never give-up the fight to regain power through manipulation of the economy....
Your words motivated me to cut off 9 inches of my hair so that this chemotherapy doesn't mentally take control over my life.
Never underestimate the influence of a well-executed movie monologue.

Thankful to finally be rid of these steroids, looking forward to a drug-free week,
Breeding optimism, as always,

-          Serena Bonneville J       


  1. Hello Serena
    The news of your ALL was sent to me by a friend whose son you go to school with. I was diagnosed with APL in February and after months of treatment have gone into full remission and am now in my maintenance phase. This is a cancer that can be beat, and your positive outlook is the largest part of your recovery.

    The emotions and turmoil that you are feeling is completely normal. I felt the same. I am considerably older than you and am so impressed by your blog. The changes to your body, emotions and concentration levels will all go back to normal once you are finished with treatments. I too had difficulty concentrating and reading was tough, still is to some extent. Slowly over time it gets better.

    The loss of my hair was the most difficult thing for me to deal with. We woman become vain over our hair, we spend more time looking after our daily. Mine started to fall out after the 2nd week of my hospital stay. I too had beautiful long hair. One of the nurses told me that I needed to cut my hair short and maybe consider shaving it. I refused to do. I felt I could have control over it and what if it didn’t all fall out. Well 98% of it did… but I still had hair although very thin it was still there. My hair now has grown back very quickly and very curly. I must say I am not enjoying my afro.

    Keep up on your writing. You are an inspiration to many! Please feel free to contact me if you want to talk to someone who has just been there. (

  2. Hi Serena,

    I have been reading your blog and loving your posts. Would you be interested in joining us on the CKNW Simi Sara Show in the near future? Please email for more information.

  3. Hello,
    how do I start a conversation with a total stranger who I don't even know and more importantly doesn't even know me. Well maybe I should start with a comment, since this is the comment box I'm typing into. Just a few hours ago while I found myself unable to sleep( also known as temporary insomnia, only last about 15 minutes ;tops) I decided to head upstairs, to see which cars were parked in the front of the house ( my way of figuring out how much peace and quiet I can expect) There it was. The Newspaper! And I came across this very inspiring news article about a young lady, diagnosed with Leukemia. I thought to myself "____" (sorry, I don't think very fast), what a beautiful thing to take such a serious and heart-stopping event and turn that event around and use your experience to touch the life's of others around you. Thank-you. Look forward to your future blogs. Stay strong.