Another trip to the Chemo dock has come and gone. Many people have asked how did it go and I really have no idea how to answer that question. I think people just want to ask about the side effects instead of the actual process of chemo. But me being typically a sarcastic person, my response has been, “well the chemicals are in me.” I was dreading this trip more than the last. My first chemo experience was too disruptive to not dread the next trip. At least this time I knew what I was getting into. I arrived at the cancer center 15 minutes early. I had my numbing cream blobbed on my port and plastic wrap stuck on the top of it to make sure that the cream didn’t slide and my whole left side go numb. The cream worked perfectly. I didn’t feel a stick at all. In the parking lot I finished my chicken nuggets and washed it down with the magical healing powers of polynesian sauce. We made our way into the waiting room, where we encountered a packed house. But we were veterans now, armed with a bag full of food, blankets, external batteries, books, and other assorted items. We arrived at 12:45. We did not start until 3:00. Well at least I got in some good reading and playing of mindless app store games. There were very few people in the Chemo dock, but TV Land was still playing. We got a quieter room this time and we got to ask the nurse a few questions about the clinic. The nausea meds take 40 minutes to drip. DTIC takes an hour. The other three chemo meds are pushed and take a very short amount of time. So around 2 hours of chemical injections. We commented about the wait and the fact that there was really no one in the chemo dock. I asked who sat in the main room with the big TV. I figured that was for people who had to come more than me or for different types of chemo. Our nurse informed us that the side rooms were first come first serve. As in most people actually sit out in the main room, I come late in the afternoon so I will always get a room. Of course my next question was, “are there really that many people that come in here everyday?” The nurse replied, “We give 40 treatments a day here.”
I let that wash over me for the next hour as the drip continued and the Benadryl started to take effect. 40 people a day. 200 a week. Not the same people either. I come once every two weeks. 40 families a week are affected by the same or worse stuff than I am going through. This is unbelievably humbling. I remember back to the Egg Bowl before I knew I had cancer. There was an ad promoting cancer research that stated that 1 in 5 people would have cancer in their lifetime. I looked at my group of six there, my parents, my sister and her husband, and Carly and myself. My dad had already had cancer and I thought, “good we are covered just about.” Looks like I was the 1 in the next 5. I left the Chemo Dock as the last patient of the day. The waiting room was empty, TV Land was turned off, and the sky was getting dark. The Benadryl was taking full effect and when we got home I immediately fell asleep.
One of the most poignant statements made in tonight’s heartbreaking episode of Downton Abbey was from Mary. She said, “It is nice to know that we are not alone and that others are facing the same trials.”
The trials I am facing now have been faced before. The trials you are facing now have been faced before. So many people have reached out to me to tell me their story of cancer. Whether it was a personal story or a family story, people have longed to encourage me through their experience. It is empowering. So share your story to those around you. You never know who you will encourage or help. It just might be another one of the 40 or that 1 in every 5.