I am learning how the word Cancer can change your life. But I am still ME.
I had my first chemo yesterday. (Only 3 more to go!) It was yet another new experience, full of empty fears and amazing people. A new room to become familiar with. New smells, new routines, and even though I get a nifty little TV with my chair, I still am challenged by technology and couldn’t find my judge shows. I guess I am on my own!
I haven’t really gone over the timeline in my blogs yet, and I probably will at some point. But right now, I want to share the things that are working for me, as the journey continues. Maybe it will help some other woman (or man) out there to see that it can be a learning challenge. And that Challenge is a much better word to use than Cancer! They both start with “C”.
Chemo Day 1:
I didn’t sleep very well. I was nervous about what I didn’t know. I was scared about all the things they tell you to expect to prepare you. I was not worried about a lot of the things they stressed. But what I didn’t know was driving me bonkers. I packed my tote bag with my Raccoon slippers, books, my Kindle with my music and meditation routines, water, pretzels, my folder with info, my iPhone and my little wallet with ID, etc. Figured I would cover all the bases. Wore comfy clothes and one of my larger comfort wraps. As I see it, this is my chance to field test my designs for my wraps. I have been making comfort wraps for years, but designing them based on word of mouth from friends and customers. Now I get to see what I have right and what I can improve! (How many designers can say That?)
We get in the car to make the 15 minute drive. It is 15 minutes because it is the end of rush hour here in town, and it can take 10 minutes just to clear the light at the intersection of Evesham Road and Route 73. No lie. But the powers are with us, and we get through in only 3 cycles of the light. It’s the coldest morning so far this season, and I remind myself to make a note to add “Heated Seats” to my list of things I am grateful for today.
We get to the facility and the hurry up and wait cycle begins. I am used to it, but it’s hard on Rich. He is torn between wanting to see me settled in this new place, and getting back home so that he can get back to work. As usual, there is a ‘critical’ problem that they need him to fix, and he is determined to show his bosses that he appreciates their kindness in letting him work from home on these days by giving them a full day. (Just one more reason I adore him!)
After a few minutes, my nurse for the day, Joan, introduces herself and we start the Newbie Information phase. She is explaining the things to me I need to know. I have heard them before, but I respect she needs to do this as part of her job. Rich can leave, so I tell him I will call him a little while before I am done. I turn and give Joan my full attention. I’m not sure if she is glad. For example: She is explaining to me that I will lose my hair starting with my next session. Yes, I reply, I know. I’m kind of excited to see what color my hair really is, after dyeing it for 45 years. I even have my “Buzz Brunch” date set with my daughter and my hairdresser (her sister in law), and perhaps I will invite a few more friends for the unveiling. Joan is not sure how to reply to this, so she continues to tell me it might grow back curly or even come in white. I couldn’t be more excited! I never had curly hair, it could be fun. And all white! Really? That would be gorgeous. Or maybe a bright silver?
Joan gives up trying to shock me and moves on to the side effects I may experience. She points out that there is a whole list of them I should read, so that if I experience them, I don’t panic. I gently mention to her that I have been working hard and focusing on only attracting positive energy at this time, so I would prefer not to read this list (again) but I will know where to look for it if I start to feel odd. The woman in the next chair chimes in and says “Don’t read it. It will only drive you crazy.” Joan is not amused. I am. I tell the woman that, in my case, that would be a putt rather than a drive, and I appreciate having permission not to read it. Joan figures I am a smart ass and pushes on. I try hard to behave. After all, this woman is going to be sticking toxic substances into me in a short while. No sense pissing her off.
Finally, we get started. IV fluids that will help spread the healing juices. I can’t find my judge shows on the new flat screen, so I jump on Facebook to see my wonderful gift for the day. My friend, Janet Powers, has made a Support Group for me! For me! And the humor and love and energy people are sharing makes me feel like I could moonwalk around the room, even dragging my pole on wheels!
This support carries me through the rest of the day. The tedious process of hand pushing the medicines into the IV because they haven’t put my port in yet. The endless fluids. By hour 4, I feel like Moby Badger wallowing in my own internal juices. Good thing I wore stretchy stuff….. Blessedly, this is the absolute worst discomfort of the day. Sloshing around when I walk.
The atmosphere in the Infusion Room is one of positive professionalism and tenderness from the staff. Tremulous hopefulness from the patients. Some people have a gaggle of guests surrounding them. Others have a faithful, loving spouse watching them sleep, wrapped in their own thoughts and prayers. I had my Support Group and “Comfortably Numb” on the Kindle… when I wasn’t jamming to the “Best of Poison”. No, I didn’t sing out loud. People are trying to feel good here – no sense assaulting their eardrums while their systems are being bathed in chemicals!
I came home to more love, more support. And my own bathroom, God be praised. I have to be careful and safeguard anyone who may come in contact with my ‘stuff’ in the bathroom, so I take it to heart and make sure I have gloves, etc. in the bathroom I use. Something useful to do is always a help. I feel like I took speed, or something. I am so energized, I want to jump around. Wisely, I fold laundry instead and finally get to commune with Judge Judy. They were right; I am not hungry. I make myself eat some homemade chicken soup around 6:30, because only eating pretzels all day is bad for my hypoglycemia, and I don’t want to wake up with THAT headache.
I have my meds lined up, just in case. But I still feel like I am flying, on top of the moon. I am not sick. No palpitations. Still bloated, but I can deal with that. Still having wonderful friends reaching out to me, and I am slurping up the love and positive energy like a thirsty girl at Happy Hour. I picture Eeyore saying “Thanks for noticing me” and I am so grateful that I want to spin around in the room, shooting hugs out to everyone! But that would freak out the dogs, and they are having enough trouble figuring out what is going on!
My first chemo day ended with me actually being awake at 10:30 at night, curling up with my beloved hubby under an extra blanket, nodding off almost immediately. I slept like a log until 2:30, when the dogs traditionally wake me up to let them out. I, loving my routines, get up, let them out, let them back in, and fall back asleep in my chair. All’s right with the world.
I woke up my usual time. I’ve been up now for 3 hours. No nausea yet, which I am super happy about. I get my booster shot this morning to keep my immune system strong. Someone told me they give it to you in your butt. I hope not. I guess I will find out in a few hours.
I truly believe that the preparation I did, thanks to my energy angel, Cindi Richard, helped me look at this in a way that is changing the experience. She had me pick up “Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster” by Peggy Huddleston. There is a section in there about chemo, and how you visualize it in a way that helps you welcome the healing fluids, rather than thinking about the negative side. I loved that, and found myself visualizing the chemo as a beautiful liquid light, bright with pinks and golds and silvers, flowing into me and devouring the tumor. Some of the other visualization suggestions are also great, and I have been using them along with meditation routines from the CD.
Learning about attracting positive energy by following the incomparable Kathy Hadley for the past year has also been a huge help. Even before I knew these things were coming, I read her affirmations, and taught myself how to improve my own life and path by attracting what I wanted in my life. It is not easy to learn to prevent the negative energy, and there are sneaky things that trip you up. But any time you make the effort, it is worth it as it becomes easier and easier.
So now I am off to greet the routine of Day Chemo + 1. Using my learned helping routines. Closing my eyes and feeling grateful for all the people who want to be part of my Support Group. Trying to remember the little things that I think might help someone reading this.
But the most important lesson for today is a very simple one. I Am Still Me. Take THAT, Cancer! #MakingCancerMyBitchIn2015