Firewalking is the act of walking barefoot over a bed of hot embers or stones. Firewalking has been practiced by many people and cultures in all parts of the world, with the earliest known reference dating back to the Iron Age of India c. 1200 BC. Cultures across the globe use firewalking for rites of healing, initiation, and faith.
And apparently, it’s a right of passage for many chemo patients, but not by choice. As I dig into Day 36 of my chemo (Day 9 of round 3), I’ve been initiated to a new kind of firewalking – chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN). CIPN is characterized by peripheral neuropathy that affects the hands and/or feet. In my case, it’s the feet. The pain is intense and consistent. Every step feels like I’m walking over sharp, white-hot coals. Ice therapy throughout the day provides minor temporary relief, but the relief fades as soon as these fire feet separate from the ice.
I’ll be meeting with my oncologist soon, while many chemo pain symptoms are transient and resolve after chemotherapy, CIPN may require a dose reduction or delay. I hate to think this may cause a slowdown in my treatment plan, but it’s equally as hard to imagine living with this pain for the next several months.
Firewalking as a religious ceremony is still practiced in many parts of the world today. In such ceremonies, it is believed that only those who lack faith will suffer from injuries from fire, while the faithful are spared. My faith runs deep, may I please be spared the pain?
Thanks for walking through the fire with me. More to come soon.