A Mother and her Two Daughters

06 April 2010

The Many Faces of Cancer

It was another day spent with the very caring medical team at the UAMS Rockefeller Cancer Institute. I’ve already grown accustomed to the routine.  And today it felt good to have many of my various caretakers begin to remember the special circumstances of our battle together, to call me by name.  These are new relationships in my life, and they are ones I now covet. 

The routine each treatment day is this: 
  1. Lab work to check my white blood cell count, and a few other things like liver function and vital signs
  2. My appointment with Dr. Makhoul, which is always a real treat since in addition to being a medical doctor, he’s also good medicine for the soul.
  3. And finally, the big chemo treatment, which takes about 90 minutes.  Today was round three with the current chemo cocktail – Cytoxan and Adriamycin, both administered intravenously though my chemo chest port, followed by a Neulasta shot in my stomach

       Today was another good report; my white blood cell count was exactly where it needed to be, and Dr. Makhoul says I’m responding very well to the chemotherapy.  I’m hopeful that the good news continues throughout my treatments and I’m looking forward to an upcoming breast MRI sometime around the first of May.  We’ll know more then as to the true clinical effects of the treatments. 

Because I’ve grown accustomed to and have no fear of the chemo routine, today Tim and and settled quite comfortably in our chemo cubby.  But instead of reading my book and listening to my iPod, I found myself focused on the other cancer patients around me.  Their stories and journeys with cancer have their own set of circumstances. 

A woman in the infusion area directly next to me was there for her first treatment, her husband accompanying her.  She was very anxious, and her husband said she was unable to eat due to extreme stress.  When the my nurse asked me how I had handled my own treatment the past two weeks, I told her that the nightmares of chemotherapy – other than the extreme fatigue – had been way over-exaggerated, that I was feeling good healing throughout my body.  I noticed that this first time patient and her husband were listening.  I went on about the healing elixir of chemo and that I had come to think of it as my dear friend in the battle to regain my health.  I’m hopeful she felt a little sense of comfort as I described how round #2 had been a positive transition in my treatment. 

An elderly woman, obviously on the same Tuesday schedule as me, was there for her return visit. Two weeks ago she was in the infusion cubby across from me, and on that day she left in tears.  Her white blood count was too low to administer her regularly scheduled treatment, and she was sent home with great disappointment.  Today, she and her daughter were back and she was proudly taking in every drop of her chemo, left the Infusion Center with a smile on her face. 

There were two older gentlemen in the Infusion Center, one receiving chemo, the other receiving a blood transfusion.  As they visited with one another, they soon discovered they both grew up in the Danville/Havana area.  And while they did not know one another, they had much fun sharing stories about mutual friends and acquaintances, neighbors, schoolteachers, community leaders and life experiences in those two little communities.

And finally, a young girl, who looked to be about Anna-Lee’s age, about 17 or 18 years old.    She was there with her mother, definitely on a repeat visit as she too had lost all of her hair.  She seemed quite accustomed to the routine, discussed with the nurse some complications she had experienced, and seemed thankful that a new chemo strategy was to begin today.  Throughout the conversations between the mother and daughter and nurse, the young girl kept a beautiful smile on her face, her eyes with a sparkle of hope.  When she walked, this young woman seemed almost empowered in her stature, confident in her own fight against this nasty disease. 

Today I had the good fortune to listen, observe and encounter several other Cancer Warriors, all of them writing their own life chapters about cancer, experiencing their own good days and bad days.

This year an estimated 1.48 million Americans will be diagnosed with some form of cancer.  While an estimated 66% will survive over a 5-year period of time, another 1,500 Americans will die each day from this deadly disease. 

How selfish of me!  There are 200 different kinds of cancer and so many good people in their own relay for life, hoping to join the final ranks of “survivor.”  But up until today, my prayer has been about me – a prayer asking God to help me heal or teach me to cope with grace and in unity with Him. 

Today that prayer will change. 

Dear God in Heaven, I ask you to work out your ultimate will for those with cancer, for those undertaking surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.  Take away the natural feelings of hopelessness, fear and despair; replace our hearts with abundant strength, a ray of hope and faith in your ability to guide us through this challenging journey.  And give those fighting cancer the blessings of love of family and friends, and the joy of everyday moments in life.  In your name we pray . . . Amen. 

I hope dear friends that when you say a prayer for me, you will change your prayer to ask for blessings for all of the men and women and unfortunate children experiencing a similar, or even tougher, struggle each day. 

Many thanks to all of my Prayer Warriors, and supportive friends.  I don’t need group therapy to lift my spirits.  YOU are my group therapy and your many words and acts of encouragement are making a difference in my life each day. 

Tomorrow I plan to sleep away the day, other than some time planned by my dear friend Frances Jane.  Along with having several head scarves made for my little bald head, this former Miss Arkansas has arranged for a scarf expert to teach me and my friend Patty how to make sense of this new mandatory headdress.  It should be fun time with a few friends sharing love and support for one another.  


  1. Oh Stacy,
    Such beauty and grace pour out of your soul, washing over the rest of us, teaching us about strength, humility, looking beyond our small selves, trusting in our heavenly maker. Thank you, Dear One.
    Much love,

  2. Stacy, I have a condition called Polycythemia. Periodically I have to go to the Hemotology Clinic and have a pint of blood drained off. I just have to sit there and look at all the people getting their chemo treatments. I think of you and how fortunate I am to have just a small problem. Just FYI I have spoken to God about you and He said to tell you that you are going to be just fine. Thought you'd like to know.

  3. And this is why you are going to beat this ~ because you are larger than it, smarter and BLESSED -

    Oh, the pages you will publish and we will all read but from the standpoint of "cancer free for _____ years". :)


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