Community Maplewood Salon

Maplewood Author/Journalist Mark Mooney: ‘Why I Am Quitting Chemo’

Maplewood-based author and journalist Mark Mooney has created a blog Closing in on -30- “about my doctor’s pronouncement that I have about two years to live.” The posts are short and blunt, honest and revelatory, painful, wry and sometimes sweet. Below is the latest installment.  

There will be no more chemo for me.

I’ve wrestled with how to deal with the unstoppable advance of my prostate cancer, and decided that more chemo is not the answer. And I am relieved at that decision.

On the “weenie” side, I guess this means I am not “fighting” cancer like a tough guy. To heck with that. That bout is rigged. You just endure and last as long as possible.

And the point of all this treatment is not just to live longer, but to live well. Living well has become more important to me than just hanging around.

My wife, daughter and son have all said that this decision is up to me and they are good with whatever I decide.

God bless those, including my unsinkably cheerful cousin Mary, who are enduring much tougher chemo regimens and will keep doing so.

But chemo for me was never going to be a set number of sessions and then I would be done. It was scheduled for every three weeks for the rest of my life, which was estimated by my doctor recently to be about nine to twelve months.

The nasty drip had succeeded in reducing the cancer in some areas of my body, but was not effective on the cancer in my skeleton, which my oncologist wanted to address with a second bag of chemo. He has urged me to consider the extra chemo. Stopping altogether, he has advised, could shorten my life by three months or more.

The cancer literature assures patients that stopping chemo does not mean giving up, but in my case there may be an element of throwing in the towel. I have been sick and getting sicker for more than a decade. There was the surgery, then the radiation, hormone therapy, experimental drugs, radioactive drugs, monthly shots in my stomach and quarterly needles in my butt among many other things.

The side effects were tough on my body and my ego. They ravaged my plumbing, gave me uncontrollable sweats for years, made me gain weight, played painful havoc with my joints, turned my sex life into a fond memory, and made going someplace overnight or even out for drinks with friends something to avoid.

Those procedures and meds, however, succeeded in keeping me alive for twelve years through two jobs, my children’s high school and college graduations, and my final mortgage payment. It allowed me to be there for the harrowing crisis when my wife was struck by a car. Being alive and relatively healthy was a recurring theme at many Thanksgivings and made Christmases and July 4ths even sweeter.

The nightmarish side effects of chemo, however, were in another category altogether and left me essentially housebound. It was taking a drastic toll on my mind and my spirit.

Now without the spectre of chemo, there is a ray of hope that I can live better, do more, see people, go places, enjoy meals, and actually have fun.

Read more of “Closing in on -30-” here.

Mooney will be reading from his memoir “Three Cents A Mile” at 3 p.m. July 29 at the Maplewood Library on Baker Street.

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