All aboard the chemo train


Even just typing the word makes me feel kind of ill. I don’t think there is a single person out there who has a positive association with that word. But nonetheless, in the case of cancer, it is a necessary evil. And thus, yesterday, marked my first of several chemotherapy sessions. And I am here to report that I made it out alive.

On the way to the hospital, I couldn’t believe what was happening. What I was about to do to myself. Willingly allow myself to be injected full of toxic chemicals. Again, how is this my life? I’m not sure. But it is. So I went.

The waiting room for chemo was packed. Although there were some “younger” patients, I looked around, and made the call that I was the youngest person there. I tend to get lots of stares in these situations, and yesterday was no different. You’re in the wrong place, you don’t belong here, their stares scream at me. But then after checking in at reception, they realize I do belong there, and they look sad for me. And I don’t like those looks, so I hide under my hood and wait a long hour until finally my pager goes off. The pager going off reminded me of being a kid and waiting for a table at The Cheesecake Factory. I will never look at a pager the same way again.

Jacob and I made our way to my chemo lounge chair. This doesn’t look too bad, I thought. We were very close to the man in the chair next to me, which could have been a disaster, but luckily he was very nice and laughed at all my stupid, awkward jokes and I really appreciated that. He was flying in from Northern Ontario for his treatment, which made me feel very grateful that I live about a 15 minute car ride from the hospital. My nurse’s name was Sammy. She was a gem. I don’t think I could have had a better first nurse. I asked if I could have her every time, but she said she’s going on a long vacation. I told her to please send me a postcard. She explained everything really well, let me closely inspect the medicine in order to convince me it wasn’t rat poison, gave me a blanket and proceeded to inject me full of drugs, straight into my port (which I was also so grateful for… no vein searching or relentless poking!). Right before the drugs went in, my sweet husband got me some popsicles and ice chips, which I chomped on throughout the entire treatment because that’s what the chemo kids in-the-know do.

After a couple hours when it was all over, we said goodbye and met my sister who was waiting for me in the hallway. I went and got a pastrami sandwich, which now sounds completely revolting, but at the time it sounded great. And it was. With a pickle, naturally.

I felt pretty good when I got home. And then the nausea hit. And the fatigue. And the tears.

And so it begins. The chemo ride. Not exactly a trip to The Cheesecake Factory. But hey, I got free popsicles out of the whole deal. All is not lost, my friends.


4 thoughts on “All aboard the chemo train

  1. Great blog! I am also a breast cancer survivor diagnosed at 39. One thing that I found helpful during months of treatment was the discussion boards at They have groups that seem to naturally form each month for those going through chemo, so you can join December, for example, and then chat with people who can commiserate with what you are going through at the moment. I found it really helpful. Also, you can put up messages to find people who have the exact type of treatment you are having, and look at other parts of the discussion board that deal with surgery, radiation treatment, fertility concerns, etc. Just so you know, when you lose your hair, everyone will tell you that you have, “a lovely shaped head.” I went for a way too expensive wig (natural hair, etc., made just for me) and hated it. I mainly wore scarves but, given it’s winter, a wig can be nice because your head will be cold (really cold). I suggest the moderately priced, ready-made ones. It can be fun to try on a whole, new you. When I was shorn just before my hair really started to fall out, I loved going out with my punk rock do for a couple of days. It’s like you have a whole new personality.

  2. I start my first chemo treatment this Friday,Dec 14. So scared. Not just for myself but for my family. I know it will be hard on them,watching me go through this. But we have no choice. I’m only 41 so this was a total shock. And like you, I had the long,beautiful hair. I’ve already cut it to my shoulders….going this week to get it cut again….before it falls out. I just want to go back to my boring, old life. I loved that life.

  3. Hi Steph
    You dont know me but I worked at Camp Ramah under Casey. I stumbled across your blog this morning and sat and read the whole thing. I just wanted to say keep up the good fight. I finished treatment for Hodgkins Lymphoma. What got me through was great friends, family and a sense of humor. It sounds like you have all of that! Good luck with everything.

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