My oncologist established that skinny-little-me could handle the chemotherapy. Why would he think otherwise? I had no idea what I was in for, thank heaven, but I would soon find out.
My chemo treatments especially are dreadful memories for me, and each treatment seemed to run into the next, making them equally disheartening. Mariano usually drove me to the hospital for my appointments, and the first treatment was no different.
We headed to the oncology department for what would become routine blood tests. The doctor would review the pertinent markers each visit. Subsequently, doctor visits and blood tests were on a different day from treatments, and were scheduled monthly for the chemo oncologist. My first treatment included a lot of preparation and information sharing with the nurse that was assigned to my file that day.
From the waiting room, I was directed to a long narrow room where at least seven or eight blue and green reclining chairs lined up along what seemed like a forty-foot wall. They weren’t the cozy chairs you would put in your family room, but ones you would expect to find in a public area – boxy, with a high back rest and covered in thick vinyl. They weren’t as comfortable for me as I would have liked, because I didn’t have the strength to recline them on my own. I wished the surroundings were prettier, like the new lounges in some hospitals. It felt very clinical, but during the Christmas holiday, the nurses put a little artificial tree on the counter, decorated with colourful ornaments and a flashing star at the top.
I’m not sure the nurses assigned each chair to a particular patient, but I often sat in the same area. Perhaps each nurse had their own section, and I would sit where it would be easier for that nurse to take care of me. But wherever I took refuge for my frailty, the room still felt grim. The nurses went about their pleasantries, heedful as they tried to lighten the mood. But patients sat and stared ahead as they received their poison. It was mostly silent and laughs were scarce, so that was the extent of the activity generating from that room.
Today, November 29, 2016, marks the day that I began chemotherapy twelve years ago. It’s also my daughter’s birthday. There are no words how grateful I am to still be around for her. I refuse to abandon her again! But it’s not always in my hands, is it?