I had been putting it off until I was done all my treatments. The doctors had said my hearing would most likely be affected by the chemo, but I was already wearing hearing aids so I thought, how bad could it get? There’s lots of things they don’t tell you up front when you start cancer treatments. It’s only later, when you start having some side effects that were not expected, that the doctors start listing off a few more of the “obscure” ones. For instance, when I had breast cancer in 2001, they did not tell me I might experience problems with my teeth and nails years later. It was only when my teeth started to chip and even fall out that I knew something was terribly amiss! My nails became extremely brittle and chipped constantly. My dentist clued me into making sure I was taking calcium supplements. When my family doctor diagnosed me with osteoporosis ten years ago, he said chemo can effect the bones and bring on early osteoporosis. Dry skin, and being more sensitive to sunlight are also common delayed reactions to chemo. I’ve been told that radiation also has some long term side effects that could show up years after treatment. Nothing surprises me anymore. The doctors are quick to say, and I have to agree with them, that despite the side effects associated with chemo and radiation, it’s infinitely better to deal with them than succumb to cancer. Still, I keep praying less invasive treatments can be used to combat cancer.
Having gone through chemo before, I was prepared for all the nastiness this time. I have prayed my teeth, bones, and nails have been somewhat safe-guarded with a healthy, calcium rich diet and supplements that I have taken over these many years. I am hoping my exercise regimen will help regain my strength too.
I knew I was not hearing as well after my first battle with cancer, but I chocked it up to playing my music loud and proud during my teen years in the 70’s. I experienced more profound hearing loss after a severe bout with a flu and cold in 2014, when I was teaching in a Junior High School. Unfortunately, I am allergic to the flu shot, so I was susceptible to all the nasty bugs the students contracted. Just before Christmas that year, I was fighting a cold, laryngitis, and the flu, and a raging ear infection. As a result, I ended up needing hearing aids. I only learned this past year that chemo may also have contributed to some of my hearing loss.
My oncologist did warn me this time to get my hearing tested because I might experience more hearing loss. So I put it off until last week and then I picked up some brand new hearing aids. I never realized how poor my old hearing aids were in comparison with these new ones. The technology is so much more advanced than even six years ago, so when I put the new ones in, I couldn’t believe the difference! It’s like I’ve discovered a whole new world! The real heartache I’ve had these many years of having hearing loss is not being able to enjoy music as much because it all seemed so tinny sounding even with hearing aids. Being a music lover and frustrated I couldn’t hear the nuances and subtlety of the instruments in the melody anymore, I stopped listening to music for pure enjoyment. So it’s not surprising the first thing I had to try with the new hearing aids in was to turn my car radio on. I expected to be disappointed, but when I heard the sweet sounds again so clearly, I was overcome with emotion.
I find I am much more emotional after this last go round with cancer. I unexpectedly tear up at the simplest of things. A stunning sunset leaves me breathless. A Super Bowl commercial by Google has me weeping. A hug, an unexpected compliment, an act of kindness, a smile from a friend, a poignant quote or an impacting Scripture verse…I store away all experiences to recall with joy later. I especially find myself overwhelmed with praise when I can now hear a beautiful hymn, so powerful in its message, the melody so familiar and now so clear I can barely sing the words. My heart overflows with thankfulness that I have come through this and every “storm” in my life thus far and can give testimony to God’s provision and care in every situation.
It is a whole new world for me once again. Every day is a gift. I know I can’t take anything for granted, but while I still have ears to hear I can sing with gusto, “Blessings all mine with ten thousand beside!”