Days after brain surgery, recovery, and release from the hospital, my wife experienced a really bad head-ache that landed us in the ER and spawned her second hospital stay, about $20,000 in additional medical bills, and, worst of all, her to miss Christmas. It was not until months later that we found out it was due to bacterial meningitis. We knew it was an infection being treated by some of the strongest antibiotics available, but the word "meningitis" wasn't used until months later. I had suspected it, but didn't dig much deeper. At that point, we were both in the daze that comes with a crazy cancer diagnosis and rush to treatment (not to mention the holidays). At one point, her neurosurgeon even suggested that post-operative infections sometimes are connected to spontaneous remission. What was not mentioned was all the possible long-term side effects, which include memory loss, light-headiness, learning disabilities, hearing problems, head aches, coordination issues, general and limb weakness, vision impairment, organ damage, skin damage, arthritis, and a host of others. Combine those with the side effects from the radiation and chemotherapy, well, you have a lottery of just about every ill you could experience...many of which haunt my wife on a daily basis. What I find most disturbing, though, is how doctors don't look out for most of these...almost, in a fashion that would suggests they would prefer you just "tough it out". Though these issues are mostly temporary, they are certainly among the most challenging issues a cancer patient would face daily and can cause a patient to not recover as well as possible, not to mention how it can feed the worry of the loved ones around the patient.
I have to think, after facing all these challenges you come out stronger, but those days are impossible to imagine right now.