Chapter One

This began as a note on my Facebook page and on my other blog on May 28th. I decided to make this a series in and of itself. Mostly, it will be "journaling" of my current health issue and a history of our family's journey. It is a way for friends and family to keep up with what is happening in our lives since we, like so many others, have been touched by cancer and chemo.

May 28th was a long day at the Cancer Center. Husband and I arrived at 9:45 a.m. There is always the check in, then the pager, then traveling to the various offices. The first visit was with oncology nurse practitioner. It is on the ground floor and just down the hallway heading north.

The entire campus of the Cancer Center is beautifully decorated. There are numerous paintings and photographs that have been donated. Some have been given as gifts and some are for sale. There is one in vibrant blues and reds and oranges depicting a wash during the time of monsoon. It is for sale. I want it. But do I need it?

It gives me joy to view it every time I'm there. I stand in front of it and ponder the artist's technique and juxposition of contrasting elements. My eye is then drawn to the similarities and the differences between the objects. It is a wonderful piece. I've always wanted to own an "original" piece of art, oh, something other than my own jots and scribbles.

It seems as if other things are occupying my time, but the art world certainly takes my heart and mind to another place and I find I stop and view and my spirit and soul are filled up with something other than cancer and chemo.

It is now time to head upstairs to the infusion pods. We take the elevator to the second floor, check in at the station then find a waiting room for our pager to yet signal once again to proceed elsewhere. This time it will be either South Infusion or Central Infusion.

We sit in the waiting room and are gently drawn into conversation by two sisters. Mere observation lets you know which sister is receiving treatment and which is the caregiver. I sit closer to them and share in the conversation for a bit. Time passes ever so slowly as you await your turn, for your pager to vibrate you into your next reality.

I picked up a magazine on home decor for multi-million dollar homes. Briefly glanced at it and put it back down. Things I will never be able to afford in this life time. Nor would I want these things. They would demand more of my time, my spirit, my soul. It is almost like J.R.R. Tolkein's "Lord of the Rings" where it owns the possessor - My Precious! I desire Comfort & Joy over opulence & debt.

One by one, pagers vibrate and persons excuse themselves to traverse to another area. We are a community of circumstance, drawn by a common theme yet individual in its nature. Some talk through their disease. Others seem to quietly clutch it to their heart and hold it and the poison deep inside. I'm not judging, only observing.

Finally our pager vibrates and off we head to Central Infusion, where a smiling oncology nurse is waiting. First things first... the restroom, this is scheduled to be a four hour infusion, with other breaks in between. Her name is Setiva and she and Jennifer are my nurses in this infusion Pod that can seat four patients and one family member each. She is immensely pleased I've had the Chemo Education and have the Bag It! book all together and organized.

Next it is time for my spa treatment. You see, even with all the hydration I've been pumping into my body, my skin is parched and dry. Warm washcloths cover my arms then are wrapped yet again in warm blankets. After 5 - 10 minutes the wrapping is removed and my veins are examined for a potential spot to infuse the chemo. Since my four sessions are not a long term treatment, I will not need a port. I did start rethinking that when the first and second attempts of accessing veins in the top of my hand were unsuccessful. The first was a beginning go, but started leaking at the very end of an anti nausea med. There was only a minute left on the bag! Then the second attempt on the left hand didn't work. Finally, they brought another nurse over and she found a perfectly good vein on my right arm.

They finished up with the one minutes worth left of the anti nausea med, then it was a bag of fluids prior to the Cisplatin infusion. That infusion alone takes two hours, followed by more fluids and then finishing with Alimta and another small bag of fluids. We were in Central Infustion until 5:30 p.m.

There is so much more to share. They provide you with snacks, you can purchase lunch, even Dennis was offered snacks. I had brought a "busy bag" with me, however with the IV in my right arm I would not be able to use my adult coloring book, or journal, so I will be making some adjustments to the bag.

After the fluids were administered and it was time for the Cisplatin, our nurse came over, put it on the hook then invited Dennis to join our circle. We held hands, she placed one of her hands on the Cisplatin and we prayed. We prayed for healing, for minimal side effects, for strength. I am so very humbled by her. She may be an oncology nurse, but she is a true minister to those whom she serves, as far as she is allowed to be. Some persons do not wish to have that particular benefit.

I am becoming more and more aware that healing is not unlike our belief in the trinity. It must encompass the body, the soul and the spirit. It is a holistic approach to healing.

After the Cisplatin infusion was going, Dennis went to find something to eat for himself, then returned bringing me a yogurt parfait! Whattaguy! Being that my dominate arm couldn’t be used, he helped to feed me.

I think I’ve always known that if something befell me, he’d step up. I am an observer. When we dated I watched how he treated his mother, his grandmother and his sisters. I knew I would be “safe” with him. Yes, though our roles have changed and evolved over the years of our marriage, I consider this to be “Love In the Time of Chemo”.

I offered him a reprieve from the Infusion Pod and asked him to go check on our critters. He did. He texted me at 4:00 p.m. saying he was on his way. It takes about a half an hour for the trip and allowing for the Tucson traffic at that time.

We still had about an hour wait as the infusion wasn’t finished until 5:30 p.m. It was good to get home, see the critters and relax. It didn’t feel like I was having any side effects, except for dry lips, dry mouth so I continued to hydrate with water. Then I ate some custard pudding I had fixed the day before. Later I cut up some avocado and made some guacamole. It tasted good too! I was afraid to try my regular salsa as it was so very, very hot. And in the event I ended up with mouth sores, well, better safe than sorry.

This morning I had another piece of custard pudding, some cantaloupe, a banana and a piece of multi-grain toast with butter and orange marmalade. The coffee didn’t “taste right” so I didn’t have any, I’ll continue with water and green tea. I also had a bit of a metallic taste in my mouth, and was cautioned that could happen, so at the nurse’s suggestion I am using plastic ware and no metal in the mouth!