A Mother and her Two Daughters

06 March 2010

The Realities of Cancer in the Arms of Angels

Beginning my chemotherapy has been a mixed bag for me.  

When we arrived early this morning, the waiting room was filled with some incredibly high-spirited cancer patients all waiting for their chemotherapy treatments.  I had to chuckle observing two patients engage in a light-hearted argument about who had the best oncologist.  After several minutes, another woman interjected: "I think we're all lucky that doctors at the Cancer Institute are some of the world's best cancer doctors."  The argument then ended and the entire room smiled.  

A few minutes later, I watched one of the most beautiful women I've ever known enter the room.  Paula has been my friend for many years while we've served on the Single Parent Scholarship Board.  Yes, she has had her own battle with breast cancer, and has managed it with style and grace and a smile on her face.  She is a role model for us all.  Paula has sent me a few messages the past week, but this was our first time to see one another face-to-face since my own diagnosis.  The room surely thought we were nuts as we hugged and kissed and cried and laughed, while embraced in each other's arms.  Do I think it was a coincidence?  No way.  Paula was meant to be there this morning for me.  And my, how good it felt to be in her arms.  

I was then called in to the infusion room - most often referred to as "the chemo room."  And what a lovely place it is.  Each area is very roomy, a private area for patients and their chemo buddy, and the friendliest nurses on the planet.  Low and behold, my chemo nurse was Bill, a classmate from Hendrix College.  Again, more hugs from a longtime friend.  Do I think this was a coincidence?  I think not.  As Bill administered my first treatment of Adriamycin (a.ka. "the red devil") and Cyclophosphamide, every step of the way he gave me knowledge, and told me that knowledge would be very important to me in this new journey.  It felt so good to be cared for by someone I have known for almost 30 years.  

The first day of chemo is the quickest.  Lab tests,  and doctor consults have already been handled; so I was in at 8, out by 11.  This meant a quick trip to see Allyson at another area hospital before her 12:30 surgery.  She cried when I walked in, as it was a huge surprise.  I was able to stay with her for a while and then returned home.  At this time I was feeling quite good, so I made a goat cheese & roasted vegetable terrine for Allyson and Jeff to enjoy sometime tomorrow.  Cooking has long been my emotional therapy.  Allyson returned home about 4, Jeff arrived to Little Rock about 8, Tim stayed with me the entire day.  Anna-Lee went to Alma to watch her girlfriends play in the state championship basketball tournament. She stayed abreast all day by phone until she returned home tonight.Mom and Dad, Aunt Alice were all incredibly helpful today, and came by to check in and bring various food needs from the grocery store.  It was good to spend the day with those I love.  

The down side - It's almost 4 am, I've been awake since midnight, and I'm definitely feeling not myself.  Temperature changes (feeling cold, then feeling warm), heavy arms.  I was very sleepy at 9 pm, went to bed, but now awake - awakened by nausea.  Tonight it really hit me - I have cancer.  And the year ahead will be an incredible challenge.  I realized tonight that up until today, it has all been about attitude.  And the attitude component is incredibly important.  But today I was awakened to the reality of the physical challenges that are ahead.  No, it's not going to be an easy ride, but, I'm holding on to my survivor spirit.  It's just going to require some powerful meds, lots of water and ginger ale, and special treats like this lovely custard I'm eating made by my dear neighbor Caroline.  There's nothing like a fabulous bowl of homemade custard, a few therapeutic tears, and a special prayer to help me hit my reset button so I can move forward.  

A big thank you to so many very dear friends who have called, sent letters and cards, emails, text messages and facebook posts.  Your words, prayers and good wishes continue to inspire and give me hope for each new day.  Is it possible to bottle all this goodness and share it with others cancer patients who are not as fortunate to have YOU?  I love love love all of you, my angels and prayer warriors, so very much!!  

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