Wednesday 16 October 2013

Chemotherapy Day 4

Love is infectious. Luckily, Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) is not.

The support has been overwhelming and I could not be more appreciative given my current situation. However, I’ve come to the conclusion that although there is emotional and spiritual support, not many know exactly what I am going through at the moment and what I have planned for the future. This is completely understandable, so I’ve attempted to explain my diagnosis in a somewhat relatable way.
When you hear Leukemia, Cancer and Chemotherapy, the mind can only grasp hold of familiarities that are present as a result of past experiences and exposure. For example, when I sat in the child-friendly brightly decorated emergency room on Thursday, October 10th, I didn’t have much to go off of when the Oncologist addressed the possibility of Leukemia, Cancer and Chemotherapy.
Familiarities that my mind immediately drew from:
-          A walk to Remember
-          50/50
-          Breaking Bad
-          My Sister’s Keeper

But as we know, media and pop culture can be misleading (my blog does not fall under this category). So after receiving persistent information about my condition, there are some new familiarities that I now draw from when I hear about my diagnosis:

Leukemia: The type of cells that have taken over my body. I picture them as mindless zombies like from The Walking Dead. Their sole purpose is to kill and infect the living as they senselessly wander about unaware that their fate is threatened by the strength of courageous fighters. I, like Rick Grimes, intend on wiping out each and every walker that dared to threaten the human spirit.

Cancer: according to a handy-dandy information pamphlet given to me by my oncologist, cancer is just a name for a group of diseases. It occurs when the DNA in cells give out the wrong instructions. Cancer cells grow out of control, dividing when they shouldn’t, crowding out normal cells and staying alive way too long. So basically, cancer cells are like the citizens of the Capitol, surrounded by the 12 districts which must undergo the annual Hunger Games. The wealthy people of the Capitol, the cancer cells, slowly begin to impose rules and restrictions that result in a life of suffering for the Districts. They grow out of control, reproducing while the rest of Panem falls deeper into impoverishment; they crowd out the rest of the Districts, abusing their resources and cutting off means of development. But like Katniss Everdeen and the courageous rebels of District 12, my body is leading a revolt against these unwanted cells and the redundant infestation that has no right to claim any sense of power.

Chemotherapy: This, in my case, is an 8-month program where I am to take a combination of several drugs which change monthly; the goal of the program is to completely rid the body of all cancer cells. Major side effects include: loss of hair, weight gain, Nausea, short of breath, etc. I like to think of my chemotherapy as a team, made up of the different drugs that work together to obliterate all other intruders.
Each drug has different attributes that result in the teams’ greater efficiency; I like to relate this team to the three parapsychologists that ruthlessly fought against supernatural crime in the 80s: The Ghostbusters. Each unique contribution of Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis all made up the bold, supernatural-fighting group that defeated all threats and overcame each obstacle; as a team.

I am a bit of a movie buff and tend to draw connections from feature films in order to help me understand medical information that, to me is usually quite dry and tedious. I hope this helped you understand a little bit more of what I am going through and how I’m going to fight this. If you have any questions about Leukemia, Cancer, Chemotherapy, etc, here are some fantastic websites that probably make my attempt at explaining seem quite pathetic.

Keeping in touch with my artsy-fartsy side as I continue to breed optimism,

-          Serena Bonneville :) 


  1. You have no idea how many times I refreshed the page today hoping there was going to be a new post!! Your writing is amazing, such an inspiration you are Serena!! <3 xoxo

  2. Love your analogies Serena! Your strength is inspiring and I thank you for sharing. I see "Screenwriter" in your future. Thinking of you and your family <3 Hugs to you all - Donna Williams and Family ( Claudia )

  3. Serena, you need to know that your blog is not only read and reread by your family, friends & team-mates, but by people you don't even know. You are so greatly loved by those that do know you that others are drawn here to learn more about you and your journey. The teacher in me is compelled to comment on your strong use of figurative language and clearly defined narrative - I hope you get credit for English 12!
    Know that we miss you terribly on the pitch, we all carry you in our hearts and look forward to seeing you soon. :) Sandra

  4. Serena: I am impressed by your courage in facing down this awful disease. My daughter Zoe, a recent Southridge grad, brought your blog to my attention and was inspired by your writing. I too recently faced this disease, and recovered thanks to a Stem Cell Transplant from a generous donor. The healthy stem cells took over after the cancer cells were eradicated. If your friends have not already started, I would encourage them to start a Stem Cell and Blood drive. The one that Zoe and my family organized not only helped me but others like you. I know the Southridge community looks after its family.

    Like you, I am a fan of Breaking Bad. I even posted my impression of Walter White on my blog. The difference between me and Heisenberg is that I did not have to cook meth to pay for my cancer therapy. Or kill someone. To see my blog, go to DoctorSteve'

    Good luck with your therapy, and carry on writing. Steve Larigakis

  5. LOVE all your posts, keep writing and stay strong!

  6. Hi Serena. I don't know if you remember me but you played soccer a few years ago with Kiana, my daughter, and she shared this blog with. She like me, was impressed by your maturity, kick butt attitude and eloquence. What you have written and how you have written it, coupled with your attitude is TRULY remarkable. Keep up your blog, it will be therapeutic. The mind is a powerful thing and your positive thoughts from within yourself, and from all of your family and friends will keep you going and get you through the physically and emotional tough days. You are a strong person and to be admired. Thinking of you and your family. Take care of yourself. - Andrea Goddard