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.